Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)


School of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name



Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. William Boone

Second Advisor

Dr. Hashim Gibrill


This study examined the constitutional limitations placed on the President of the United States of America during times of war. This study was based on the premise that presidents exceed Constitutional limitations when in times of crisis and or emergency. To conduct this study, the war time presidencies of Presidents Johnson during the Vietnam War and Bush during the Iraq War were examined. This research is both a qualitative analysis and a comparative case study and was chosen because at least two cases need to be observed to study the persons and events which pertain to the substantive issues to be explored. The researcher found that even though it is clear that the United States Constitution limits the power of the president to initiate war without congressional consent, both President Johnson and Bush were able to secure congressional consent, in part, because they influenced congress to act within a context of uncertainty and often misinformation. Therefore, they did not exceed their constitutionally granted authority they used the media, influence, public opinion and other factors to expand their presidential powers. The conclusion drawn from the findings suggest that given the President’s control of intelligence that is often uncertain, political scientists need to research the practicality of providing Congress with an independent entity to cross check the intelligence provided by the President. Constitutional scholars should continue to explore presidential decisions to initiate war by authorizing law that force the executive branch to justify decisions to go to war. Also, the focus of research regarding the extra-constitutional use of war authority should shift to an analysis of what makes congress, the media, and the public so complicit when war is initiated.

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