Published December 30, 2002
WASHINGTON – A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by 32 lawmakers who wanted to stop President Bush's withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
The plaintiffs had contended the withdrawal, which took effect in June, was unconstitutional because President Bush had not sought Congress' approval.
U.S. District Judge John Bates ruled Monday that the lawmakers lacked standing to bring the case, and the withdrawal from the treaty was a political matter, not judicial.
The ABM Treaty was a vital arms control agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union. Bush claimed it became outdated after the Cold War, and the United States needed to develop missile defenses to protect itself from attacks by small countries with missiles and animosity toward the United States.
Bates said lawmakers could have tried political action to prevent Bush from withdrawing from the treaty. For example, they could have sought to deny money for anti-ballistic missile systems.
"The fact that plaintiffs have several political arrows in their legislative quiver underscores the reluctance of the courts needlessly to involve themselves in interbranch disputes," Bates said.
He also noted the lawmakers were not authorized by the House or any committee to bring the lawsuit, and lawmakers were unable to win support for a resolution to urge Bush to consult with Congress on the withdrawal.
"Permitting individual congressmen to run to federal court any time they are on the losing end of some vote or issue would circumvent and undermine the legislative process," he said.