Let it be known that the 15th day in June 2011, ten brave members of the United States Congress have found the Institution’s spine, assembled it, and however rickety the experience will be, as they haven’t used it for a very long time, are taking on the Executive Branch on the War Powers Act.
Today, I have the honor of representing ten members of the United States House of Representatives in challenging the constitutional basis for the Libyan War — and the underlying claims made by President Obama. These members include Democrats and Republicans from across the political spectrum. They share a belief that Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution expressly requires the authorization of Congress before a president can commit the nation to war. The lawsuit will be heard in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. We filed this afternoon and held a press conference with the members in front of the courthouse. A copy of the complaint (which will be heard by Judge Reggie Walton) is below.
This challenge goes beyond Libya and challenges the claim by the Administration that the President has the inherent authority to order combat operations without the approval or declaration of Congress. The Plaintiffs in this action include the second most longest standing member of Congress, John Conyers, as well as leading members from both parties. The members are Representatives Roscoe Bartlett (R., Md); Dan Burton (R., Ind.); Mike Capuano (D., Mass.); Howard Coble (R., N.C.); John Conyers (D., Mich.); John J. Duncan (R., Tenn.); Tim Johnson (R., Ill.); Walter Jones (R., N.C.); Dennis Kucinich (D., Ohio); and Ron Paul (R., Tx).
The complaint speaks for itself.
They are seeking injunctive and declaratory relief, as well as requesting a judicial review of undeclared wars under Article I of the U.S. Constitution.
This is an action for injunctive and declaratory relief. In addition to challenging the circumvention of express constitutional language, it will also challenge arguments that no one (including members of Congress) has “standing” to submit this question to judicial review. These members will ask the federal district court for review of the constitutional question and for recognition that the Constitution must allow for judicial review of claims of undeclared wars under Article I.
I am being assisted in this case by a team including Jodie Cheng, David Fox, Kyle Noonan, Eric Sidler, and Geoff Turley (no relation to Professor Turley).
Barack Obama is certainly not the first president to think he’s king, but his hubris is continuing to drive the United States into the empire ditch. Libya follows a list of worthless wars, beginning with Vietnam, the latest being preemptive war in Iraq, which was predicated on a lie that former Speaker Pelosi thought unimportant to investigate.
The Executive Branch was never meant to be a position where the president could deliver such overarching and consequential policy decisions as war without Congress weighing in.
UPDATE: The lawsuit at least forced Pres. Hubris to respond and explain, the first time the White House has deigned to offer a justification for actions in Libya.
The two senior administration lawyers contended that American forces have not been in “hostilities” at least since April 7, when NATO took over leadership in maintaining a no-flight zone in Libya, and the United States took up what is mainly a supporting role — providing surveillance and refueling for allied warplanes — although unmanned drones operated by the United States periodically fire missiles as well.
They argued that United States forces are at little risk in the operation because there are no American troops on the ground and Libyan forces are unable to exchange meaningful fire with American forces. They said that there was little risk of the military mission escalating, because it is constrained by the United Nations Security Counsel resolution that authorized use of air power to defend civilians.
“We are not saying the president can take the country into war on his own,” Mr. Koh said. “We are not saying the War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional or should be scrapped, or that we can refuse to consult Congress. We are saying the limited nature of this particular mission is not the kind of ‘hostilities’ envisioned by the War Powers Resolution.”
Screen capture from Huffington Post