Ken Ciboski

Volunteer Editorial Commentator

Dr. Ken Ciboski is an associate professor emeritus of political science at Wichita State University.

Ciboski: War Powers

Dec 12, 2018

A dramatic assumption of power by presidents has been their role as commander-in-chief. Since 1950, presidents have committed American military forces to combat without a formal declaration of war and with the acquiescence of Congress. How many Americans today know that Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution grants the power to declare war exclusively to Congress?

The new Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives has as a priority to strengthen our democracy. This includes campaign finance reform, an expansion of voting rights-- including automatic registration for voting-- and reform of legislative redistricting.

I have heard for years, and again recently, that we should not be talking about America having a democracy, but instead that the Founding Fathers created a republic. This view seems to have its origin in Federalist No.

The 15th amendment to the Constitution states: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Yoichi Okamoto /

Joseph A. Califano, who has spent 30 years in Washington serving at the Pentagon, on the White House staff, and in the Cabinet as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, and as an advisor to presidents cites gerrymandering--which is the manipulation of political boundaries in the drawing of legislative districts intended to give a political party a numerical voting advantage--as a "preeminent cause of congressional crippling" in his most recent book titled Our Damaged Democracy.

We love our constitution—at least, what we know about it. The Constitution was ratified 231 years ago this past Monday, September 17. Each year, the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania surveys Americans on how much they know about the American system of government. Each year, the results demonstrate how little Americans know about the Constitution.

The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that a grand jury must be convened to investigate a charge that Secretary of State and Republican gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach intentionally failed to register voters in 2016 by choosing not to process online voter registrations, which likely prevented qualified residents from voting in the 2016 election.

Kobach has been viewed as a leading advocate of stricter voter ID laws.

It is important to reflect on the saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Also important is the 19th-century Senator Daniel Webster’s warning that the contest for all ages has been to make sure that liberty is not the province of executive power. One concern is that newly elected presidents usually work to extend the reach of the office.

Yesterday was primary election day in Kansas. Fair and frequent elections are necessary conditions for a country to have a democracy. Even so, prior to the election the expected turnout was 26 percent of registered voters. With so many offices up for election, why do so few people vote? Have you ever asked yourself what would happen if we had an election and nobody came? 

The confirmation process in the Senate for Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court is much closer to beginning in earnest. Kavanaugh has submitted a large number of pages of information about himself that was requested by the Senate judiciary committee. Appointments to the Supreme Court are fraught with politics and controversy since the Court’s decisions have great influence on the politics and culture of American society.