The NATO intervention in Libya has brought on a new episode of an old series: Debate about the War Powers Act and the constitutional authority to make war. The debate is interesting in several regards because it tends to cut across the usual lines of partisan, and even ideological, divides.
The most valuable aspect of the debate is that it demonstrates clearly the limits of constitutional originalism of the kind advocated by Justice Antonin Scalia and others. For most of American history, there was no question about where the authority to make war lay in our polity: Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution states that Congress has the power to declare war and no one else. The founders were very concerned that lodging such an enormous power in a solitary executive officer would grant that individual too much power. And, because the chief magistrate is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, such a concentration of power in his hand might invite tyranny of a kind that has long been a scourge upon humanity, a ruling junta.