• Show Notes

By Asha Rangappa 

Dear Reader, 

Two weeks ago, former President Donald Trump made a startling statement during a rally with his supporters: He said that if he becomes president in 2024, he would consider pardoning January 6 defendants who have been prosecuted and convicted. Trump’s promise is a harbinger for how Trump will (once again) weaponize the powers of the presidency to promote lawlessness and exact revenge if he is elected to another term. But his words also presage the manifestation of another abuse of power that the Framers of the Constitution had in mind when they drafted the document, and of which we saw a glimpse on January 6.

When I teach my National Security Law class, I ask my students to read the Constitution through a national security lens. To that end, we pause on two military appropriations clauses in Article I, which outlines Congress’ powers. The first is the Army Clause, which states that Congress has the power “[t]o raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two years.” The second is the Navy Clause, which simply states that Congress has the power “[t]o provide and maintain a Navy.” Why, I ask my students, would the Framers include a two-year limit for appropriating funding for the army, but make it indefinite for the navy?