Ten members of Congress from both parties sued President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates for going to war in Libya and other countries without a declaration of war from Congress.
Their federal complaint seeks 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.”
“The decision to intervene in a civil war and expend what is now approaching $1 billion at a time of great economic stress is one that raises a host of concerns for our political system,” according to the 36-page complaint.
Reps. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, Ron Paul, R-Texas, Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., Dan Burton R-Ind., Michael Capuano D-Mass., Howard Coble R-N.C., Walter Jones, R-N.C., John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., John Duncan Jr. R-Tenn., and Timothy Johnson, R-Ill., brought the suit against the president in the U.S. capital’s District Court.
Citing government-sponsored massacres of civilians in Syria, the representatives say that the Obama’s human-rights reasoning for going into Libya opens the door to future conflicts in several countries where the denial of universal rights is commonplace, such as Syria and Yemen.
They say Obama’s established policy of committing the country to war under the authority of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization without ratification from Congress violates the War Powers Resolution. The resolution gives the president 60 days to carry out conditional combat operations, which in extreme cases can be extended for another 30 days. The representatives claim House Speaker John Boehner notified Obama via letter on June 14, that the 90-day period under the War Powers Resolution would expire on June 17.
The congressmen say Obama ordered U.S. forces to attack armed government forces in Libya on March 19.
“The cost to the United States of the Libyan War now exceeds $750 million and has resulted in the loss of U.S. aircraft in combat operations,” they claim.
The representatives say the Obama administration has denied that the Libyan operations are a war, defining the combat operations as a “time-limited, scope-limited military action.”
They claim Obama spent “roughly $550 million in the first ten days” since March 19, including “about $340 million for munitions” on his not-war, pulling money mostly from general funds appropriated by Congress.
“While these funds may allow for broad discretionary spending, the Administration has asserted the right to use these funds for an unauthorized war,” the complaint states.
The members of Congress are suing Obama and Gates for violating the War Powers Clause of the Constitution, the War Powers Resolution, the U.N. Security Council Resolution and the North Atlantic Treaty.
They want a declaration that the war in Libya is unconstitutional and an injunction suspending military operations.
They are represented by Jonathan Turley, who is the Maurice Shapiro professor of public interest law at George Washington University Law School.