U.Va.'s Miller Center of Public Affairs Launches War Powers Commission

Feb. 28, 2007 — The Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia today announced the formation of the National War Powers Commission, a private bipartisan panel led by former Secretaries of State James A. Baker, III and Warren Christopher.  The Commission will examine how the Constitution allocates the powers of beginning, conducting, and ending war.

When armed conflict is looming, debates about separation of powers and the uncertainty they often generate can impair relations among the branches of government, cast doubt on the legitimacy of government action, and prevent focused attention on policy. Armed conflicts with non-state actors and other non-traditional “wars,” as well as the courts’ involvement in war powers questions, make the Commission’s work relevant.

“Few matters are more important to our nation than how we make decisions of war and peace,” said former Virginia Governor Gerald L. Baliles, Director of the Miller Center.  “But war powers questions have bedeviled a host of Presidents, members of Congress, and judges for more than two hundred years. With its wide-ranging experience, this Commission is uniquely qualified to attempt to provide insights into how best to resolve these difficult questions.”

Commission Co-Chairs Baker and Christopher have worked with Governor Baliles to assemble the group (in alphabetical order): Slade Gorton, former U.S. Senator from Washington; Lee H. Hamilton, former Member of Congress from Indiana; Carla A. Hills, former U.S. Trade Representative; John O. Marsh, Jr., former Secretary of the Army; Edwin Meese, III, former U.S. Attorney General; Abner J. Mikva, former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; J. Paul Reason, former Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet; Brent Scowcroft, former National Security Advisor; Anne-Marie Slaughter, Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University; and Strobe Talbott, President of the Brookings Institution.

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin will serve as the Commission’s historical advisor.  John T. Casteen, III, President of the University of Virginia, and David W. Leebron, President of Rice University, will serve as ex officio members.

John C. Jeffries, Jr., Dean and the Emerson Spies and Arnold H. Leon Professor of Law of the University of Virginia School of Law, and W. Taylor Reveley, III, Dean and John Stewart Bryan Professor of Jurisprudence at the William & Mary School of Law, have been named Co-Directors of the Commission.

The panel is expected to convene its first meeting April 3-4.

The Commission’s Staff Director is Andrew J. Dubill, a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Virginia School of Law, who left the private practice of law to join the Commission.  Juliana E. Bush, a graduate of the University of Virginia, will serve as the Commission’s Policy and Planning Analyst.  W. Taylor Reveley, IV, oversees the operations of the Commission as the Miller Center’s Assistant Director for Policy Programs and Planning.

The James A. Baker, III Institute of Public Policy at Rice University, the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, Stanford Law School, the University of Virginia School of Law, and the William & Mary School of Law will serve as partnering institutions.

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The University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs, following Jefferson’s vision of the University’s public service mission, is a leading public policy institution that serves as a national meeting place where engaged citizens, scholars, students, media representatives and government officials gather in a spirit of nonpartisan consensus to research, reflect and report on issues of national importance to the governance of the United States, with special attention to the central role and history of the presidency.

The Miller Center has convened nine national commissions during the past quarter century, including the Commission on Federal Election Reform in 2001, co-chaired by Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford.