Why is the Obama Administration Being Sued Over Libya?
A bipartisan group of lawmakers have filed a lawsuit against the Obama Administration, declaring that American involvement in the NATO-led campaign against Libya violates the War Powers Resolution.
The Resolution, which has largely been ignored by presidents from both parties since it was enacted following the Vietnam War, is a law intended to check the president’s ability to declare war without Congress’ permission. It forbids armed forces to be deployed for more than 60 days without an authorization of the use of military force or declaration of war from Congress. If 60 days pass without Congressional permission being granted, the President then has 30 days to withdraw forces. According to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), the 90th day of the U.S. campaign, and thus the deadline to withdraw, is this Sunday.
“With regard to the war in Libya, we believe that the law was violated,” anti-war Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) said. “We have asked the courts to move to protect the American people from the results of these illegal policies.”
In its defense, the White House has argued that the War Powers Resolution does not apply to the campaign in Libya, as the U.S. has largely taken a backseat role to NATO. Because there are no American troops on the ground and little risk of the conflict escalating, the Administration has stated that the conflict was not what the Congress had in mind when it was enacted. “We are not saying the president can take the country into war on his own,” State Department legal advisor Harold Koh told the New York Times.“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.”
Still, the debacle could prove embarrassing for President Obama, who blasted President George Bush’s abuse of the Resolution in 2007, declaring that “the president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
However the issue plays out, it is clear that the Obama administration may need to rethink its involvement in Libya, as the tangle has become increasingly unpopular with the American people, and has already taken far longer than strategists envisioned.
- With No Clear Trend in Youth Vote, A Challenge Awaits Progressives
- How America is Falling Behind in Global Race to Expand Reproductive Rights
- Why State Support for Marriage Equality Is Gaining Momentum
- Missouri’s New Gun Law Criminalizes Federal Officers for Doing Job, Pushes Guns into Schools
- Why Are the French So Mad?