The Law: The President's War Powers

Did Richard Nixon "usurp" the constitutional powers of Congress when he unilaterally ordered troops into Cambodia? Swarms of lawyers went to Washington last week to join an increasingly intense debate on the issue (see THE NATION). Their most persuasive arguments raised fundamental questions that go far beyond Cambodia and the Indochina war.

Many of the antiwar lawyers conceded that proving the Cambodian "attacks" unconstitutional may be difficult. Nixon's authority as Commander in Chief gives him full power to protect U.S. troops in the field. But could he exercise that authority if the troops...