Constitutional Law and Criminal Procedure
As discussed in the assignment description and facts, Congress authorized President George H.W. Bush’s war against Iraq (after a major troop build-up in the region already happened) and President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq over a decade later. While the White House maintained it was a formality or “rubber stamp”, it was nonetheless sought after by the President. As Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, no President has ever admitted they needed Congressional approval to stop them from sending U.S. troops abroad to defend our country’s interest. Although Congress passed the War Powers Resolution in 1973, (50 U.S.C.S. § 1541-1548) no president has acknowledged its validity. The assignment asks, how have the courts addressed these cases when asked to rule regarding a violation of the War Powers Resolution? In 2011, Dennis Kucinich filed a suit against President Barack Obama in Kucinich v. Obama, 821 F. Supp. 2d 110 (D.D.C. 2011), in which he claimed that President Obama went beyond his authority as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces when he didn’t get approval from Congress to keep forces in Libya for more than 90 days. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia found that Kucinich lacked standing to bring an action against President Obama. The Court defined standing as
“showing that the plaintiff suffered an (1) ‘injury in fact—an invasion of a legally protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical’—(2) which is ‘fairly traceable’ to the challenged act, and (3) ‘likely’ to be ‘redressed by a favorable decision.” Id. at 115.
Simply put, the Court found that President Obama’s neglect to allow Congress to vote on his decision put all 435 members of the House of Representatives at a disadvantage, not just Kucinich or any of the 10 members of Congress bringing the suit. Therefore, plaintiffs lacked standing as they did not have any “uniquely personal” hardship due to the President’s actions. Id. at 118. The Court further noted that,” in addition to seeking judicial resolution, they have a number of other, equally effective remedies available to pressure the President to obtain congressional consent" Id. at 120. This basically means that the legislative branch must use the powers given to them proactively and not turn to the judicial branch to deal with an issue after the fact when they haven’t used the powers given to them such as voting, appropriation of funds, etc. The case was dismissed. In 2000, United States Congressman Tom Campbell sued President William Clinton. In Campbell v. Clinton, 203 F.3d 19,20 (D.C. Cir. 2000), Tom Campbell claimed it was prohibited by law for the President to send U.S. troops to Yugoslavia without Congressional approval due to the War Powers Clause of the United States Constitution, and the War Powers Resolution. Congressman Campbell further argued that
“the President be required to submit a report within 48 hours where the United States Armed Forces were introduced into hostilities or where hostilities were imminent, and terminate use of the United States Armed Forces within 60 days unless Congress had declared war or had directed particular use of the United States Armed Forces.” Id. The Congressman also claimed President Clinton failed to timely end the Armed Forces’ involvement. As in the Kucinich v. Obama case, the trial court dismissed for lack of standing. The Court held that Congress had ample legislative authority it could use to stop the President’s war-making, and therefore, appellants lacked the power to challenge such executive action in court. The Court stated how Congress has the power of “appropriations authority and could have cut off funds for the American role in the conflict. Again there was an effort to do so but it failed; appropriations were authorized. And