Published June 15, 2011
A group of lawmakers filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the Obama administration, questioning the constitutional and legal justifications for military action in Libya.
According to the complaint, a copy of which was obtained by Fox News, the group is seeking "injunctive and declaratory relief to protect the plaintiffs and the country from a stated policy of defendant Barack Obama, president of the United States, whereby a president may unilaterally go to war in Libya and other countries without the declaration of war from Congress required by Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the United States Constitution."
The suit says the lawmakers are also seeking a judge to rule that the president may not commit the U.S. to war under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or under the authority of the United Nations, or in violation of the War Powers Resolution requiring congressional authorization for the use of military force.
It also calls for a ruling that the president may not use "funds, previously appropriated by Congress, for unconstitutional and unauthorized wars in Libya or other countries."
Kucinich said the intent of the lawsuit was to "correct an imbalance."
"This is an opportunity to rectify a direction that America has been going without the support of the Constitution," said Jones, who appeared with a group of lawmakers at the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
The White House has argued for months that NATO is not leading the way in Libya and so the president doesn't need permission from Congress to keep American forces fighting in the battle to topple Muammar al-Qaddafi's regime.
White House spokesman Jay Carney has also argued at multiple press briefings that the administration is working within the parameters of the law.
The suit, however, offers examples that the plaintiffs say demonstrate all the hallmarks of American engagement in war, including the use of U.S. military forces, equipment and money in a bombing campaign against a sovereign nation and with the aim of taking out its leader.
It notes that Libya is not a part of NATO, whose treaty permits military action only in the course of self-defense in the event that a NATO member in Europe or North America is attacked.
The suit comes ahead of a deadline by the House of Representatives, which asked the Obama administration to detail its justification for military action in Libya and explain the endgame there. The complainants want to file the suit ahead of the Friday House deadline.
On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner blasted President Obama for not giving Congress any sense of whether the Executive branch will comply with federal law requiring congressional approval for war operations.
In a letter to the president, the Ohio Republican said Sunday marks 90 days since the March 19 start of military operations in Libya.
Boehner asked the president to explain to Congress how the operation is outside the scope of the War Powers Act, which requires congressional approval for military action, and if he can't, Boehner warned the White House to get on the right side of the law.
"On June 3, 2011, the House passed a resolution which, among other provisions, made clear that the administration has not asked for, nor received, congressional authorization of the mission in Libya," Boehner's letter reads. "Therefore, it would appear that in five days, the administration will be in violation of the War Powers Resolution unless it asks for and receives authorization from Congress or withdraws all U.S. troops and resources from the mission."
Several White House aides told Fox News on Wednesday a "package of materials" will be delivered to lawmakers on Capitol Hill "this afternoon" though the precise timing was not clear.
On Tuesday night, NATO planes bombed Tripoli, Libya's capital and Qaddafi's stronghold. NATO has been conducting the aerial campaign in an attempt to help a loosely assembled group of rebels operating under the banner of a "National Transitional Council" to take over the country. The rebels have started to advance on several towns outside of Tripoli, though they are not yet close to seizing the capital.