Wednesday, June 15, 2011

War Powers Act Lawsuit

The big political news of the day is that a bi-partisan group of ten congressmen have filed a lawsuit against president Obama over the Libyan intervention, claiming that his actions violate the War Powers Act. In response, the administration claims that the War Powers Act doesn't apply because U.S. involvement isn't serious enough to even warrant being covered.
We are saying the limited nature of this particular mission is not the kind of ‘hostilities’ envisioned by the War Powers Resolution.
Although I'm strongly opposed to the Libyan intervention because I don't think it is in the U.S. interest, I also oppose this lawsuit for the following reasons.

1. The War Powers Act itself is constitutionally dubious at best. As a general rule, I oppose its use.

2. I believe that as Commander in Chief the president should have wide latitude in the use of U.S. forces, even though I am against this particular operation. I'm not in favor of tying the president's hands when it comes to whether or not to employ the military in foreign policy situations.

3. Whether or not the president can commit troops to a foreign intervention without Congressional approval is not something that should be the subject of a lawsuit, or that a federal judge should have any authority to rule on. If Congress wants to block the Libyan operation they can just cut off funding. And if they think the president is actually breaking the law, or violating the Constitution, they can impeach him.

4. Because Congress as a whole is not willing to exercise the above remedies, this action by only 10 of its members amounts to a stunt. It is a typical minority attempt to circumvent the normal functioning of our democracy by looking for a judicial fiat.

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