Lawmakers Sue President Obama Over “Illegal Libya War”

By Eliza

Jun 15, 2011 12:00pm

ABC News’ John R. Parkinson (@JRPabcDC) reports:

Reps. Dennis Kucinich and Walter Jones continued their bipartisan quest to end the U.S. military’s participation in the conflict in Libya, filing a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court against President Obama to “challenge the commitment of the United States to war in Libya absent the required constitutional legal authority.”

The lawsuit challenges what the lawmakers see as “the executive branch’s circumvention of Congress and its use of international organizations such as the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to authorize the use of military force abroad, in violation of the Constitution.”

“With regard to the war in Libya, we believe that the law was violated. We have asked the courts to move to protect the American people from the results of these illegal policies,” Kucinich said in a statement announcing the suit.

A copy of the complaint is linked here.

The lawsuit is signed by a bipartisan group of members of the House, including Kucinich (D-Ohio), Jones (R-North Carolina), Howard Coble (R-North Carolina), John Duncan (R-Tennessee), Roscoe Bartlett (R-Maryland), John Conyers (D-Michigan) Ron Paul (R-Texas), Michael Capuano (D-Massachusetts), Tim Johnson (R-Illinois) and Dan Burton (R-Indiana).

According to a release announcing the suit, the lawmakers are calling for “injunctive and declaratory relief to protect the plaintiffs and the country” from:

(1) the policy that a president may unilaterally go to war in Libya and other countries without a declaration of war from Congress, as required by Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the United States Constitution; 

(2) the policy that a president may commit the United States to a war under the authority of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in violation of the express conditions of the North Atlantic Treaty ratified by Congress;

(3) the policy that a president may commit the United States to a war under the authority of the United Nations without authorization from Congress;

(4) from the use of previously appropriated funds by Congress for an unconstitutional and unauthorized war in Libya or other countries; and

(5) from the violation of the War Powers Resolution as a result of the Obama Administration’s established policy that the President does not require congressional authorization for the use of military force in wars like the one in Libya. 

The Kucinich lawsuit is just the latest in a series of headaches for the administration related to Libya.

Kucinich had worked to push a resolution through the House that would have ended U.S. involvement in Libya within 15 days of passage. The measure was poised to pass until a vote on the House floor was delayed in order to give Speaker John Boehner an opportunity to write an alternative resolution that would convince his Republican colleagues to abandon support for the Kucinich measure.

A vote on the Kucinich bill eventually failed by a count of 148-265. Eighty-seven Republicans voted in favor of the resolution — still more than the 61 Democrats who supported the measure.

Tuesday House Speaker John Boehner warned President Obama in a letter that the administration will soon be in violation of the War Powers Resolution – three months after the president informed Congress of the start of the mission in Libya – because the White House has failed to answer "fundamental questions regarding the Libya mission."

Over the past 90 days, the maximum days allowed under the War Powers Resolution without Congressional approval, Boehner complains that the president has not asked for or received approval from Congress for the action in Libya. Boehner wrote Tuesday that while the administration has provided tactical operational briefings to the House of Representatives, "the White House has systematically avoided requesting a formal authorization for its action."

The White House responded, noting that "Since March 1st, Administration witnesses have testified at over 10 hearings that included a substantial discussion of Libya and participated in over 30 Member or staff briefings, and we will continue to consult with our Congressional colleagues."

"We are in the final stages of preparing extensive information for the House and Senate that will address a whole host of issues about our ongoing efforts in Libya, including those raised in the House resolution as well as our legal analysis with regard to the War Powers Resolution," Tommy Vietor, National Security Council Spokesman, said in a statement.

ABC News’ Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper contributed to this report

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