Trump supporters argue that Trump is merely using his legal authority to the fullest. Yet the situation is worse than that. Simply by invoking the phrase “national security,” Trump can push the Congress and Supreme Court to give him almost any degree of latitude. Trump’s tariffs (under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962), the travel ban and his abrogation of the Iran nuclear deal were all made under the incantation of national security.
The Supreme Court, by a 5-4 majority, upheld the travel ban because the majority refused to second-guess the President on a claim of national security. Congress is almost completely supine on matters that the President declares to be about war and peace.
The Constitution is not supposed to work this way. Under Article I, Section 8, the power to wage war rests with Congress. So does the power to levy taxes and tariffs. Yet in each case, an aggressive President may invoke national security to circumvent the Congress. Congress’s chronic failure to oversee presidential war-making, prolonged troop placements and overseas bases, with this president and earlier ones, is similarly notorious.