Brigham Young University Prelaw Review


International Emergency Economic Powers Act, Trading With the Enemy Act, War Powers Resolution of 1973, INS v. Chadha, economic sanctions, unilateral sanctions, economic warfare, presidential sanctioning power, congressional oversight


The United States President has nearly unlimited sanctioning power. This paper agrees with presidential authority over sanctions, which has been firmly established by the Trading With the Enemy Act of 1917, International Emergency Economic Powers Act in 1977, United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp., and INS v. Chadha. However, this paper does not agree with unchecked sanctioning power. By simply declaring a national emergency, the President can legally justify most economic sanctions on foreign countries. Over the last few decades, the United States has entered a new state of “sanctioning madness” and is known for its particularly destructive unilateral sanctions. No country has imposed more sanctions than the United States, and this statistic is increasing exponentially. In 1983, INS v. Chadha struck down Congress’s ability to veto the president’s declaration of a national emergency, and thus impose sanctions. This paper will argue for the reinstitution of a legislative check on these presidential abilities. Since the War Powers Resolution of 1973 withstood this ruling and retained its legislative check on the President’s actions regarding foreign conflict, including declarations of war, this paper will argue that unilateral sanctions should legally be reclassified as a form of legitimate economic warfare—not merely diplomacy or negotiation, as INS v. Chadha assumes it is—in order to check the President’s rampant power to sanction.