U.S. SOLDIERS, PARENTS OF U.S. SOLDIERS AND 12 CONGRESS PEOPLE WIN FAST REVIEW OF SUIT CHALLENGING BUSH’S AUTHORITY TO WAGE WAR AGAINST IRAQ
PLAINTIFFS SAY INVASION WILL VIOLATE CONSTITUTION: "THE PRESIDENT IS NOT KING"
-- HEARING BEFORE THREE-JUDGE PANEL SET FOR TUESDAY, MARCH 4 --
DOE V BUSH SEEKS TO BAR BUSH FROM STARTING WAR ABSENT CONGRESSIONAL DECLARATION
[NOTE TO PRESS: A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit will hold oral argument on the plaintiffs’ appeal on Tuesday, March 4, at 9 a.m., at the U.S. Courthouse, 1 Courthouse Way, Boston. Plaintiffs and their attorneys will be available for interviews immediately following the court hearing.]
BOSTON – A coalition of U.S. soldiers, parents of U.S. soldiers from seven states and a dozen U.S. congress people won a rare expedited review by a federal appeals court in Boston of a lawsuit challenging President George W. Bush’s authority to wage war against Iraq.
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The order, issued Tuesday, February 25 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston, came less than 24 hours after a federal judge had dismissed the case. The plaintiffs had appealed the ruling by Federal Judge Joseph Tauro and had filed a motion for expedited review before the appellate court. The appellate court granted that motion yesterday and scheduled oral argument before a three-judge panel for Tuesday, March 4. The lawsuit seeks to prevent the President from ordering troops into Iraq until Congress formally declares war.
"We are pleased that the federal appeals court recognizes that this case deserves immediate review," says John Bonifaz, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney. "Judicial intervention is needed to ensure that the President adheres to the Constitution before ordering troops into Iraq in what would be an illegal and unconstitutional war without a formal Congressional declaration."
The coalition of U.S. soldiers, parents of U.S. soldiers, and Members of Congress filed the lawsuit on February 13, 2003, in federal district court in Boston seeking an injunction to prevent the President from launching a military invasion of Iraq, absent a congressional declaration of war. U.S. Representatives John Conyers and Dennis Kucinich are leading the Members of Congress who are serving as plaintiffs. On February 21, 2003, six Members of Congress added their names to the lawsuit, doubling the number of congressional plaintiffs suing the President, and nine parents of U.S. soldiers also joined the case.
The original congressional plaintiffs are: Rep. John Conyers (MI-14); Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH-10); Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (IL-2); Rep Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18); Rep. Jim McDermott (WA-7); and Rep. Jose E. Serrano (NY-16). The additional Members of Congress who joined the lawsuit are: Rep. Danny K. Davis (IL-7); Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey (NY-26); Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (MI-15); Rep. Pete Stark (CA-13); Rep. Diane Watson (CA-32); and Rep. Lynn C. Woolsey (CA-6). The parents in the case are from California, Michigan, Mississippi, Massachusetts, Illinois, New York, Washington State, and the District of Columbia.
The lead plaintiffs in the case are three U.S. soldiers, including a Marine currently stationed in the Persian Gulf.
The U.S. Justice Department is representing President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the named defendants in the case.
The plaintiffs say an invasion will violate Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, which states that "Congress shall have Power…[t]o declare War." They argue that the resolution on Iraq that Congress passed last October did not declare war and unlawfully ceded to the President the decision of whether or not to send this nation into war. Their court papers cite historical records showing
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that the framers of the Constitution sought to ensure that U.S. presidents would not have the power of European monarchs of the past to wage war.
"The President is not a king," says Charles Richardson, a plaintiff in the case whose son is a U.S. Marine now stationed in the Persian Gulf. "If he wants to launch a military invasion against Iraq, he must first seek a declaration of war from the United States Congress. Our Constitution demands nothing less." Richardson, along with Nancy Lessin and Jeffrey McKenzie who are plaintiffs in this case, is a co-founder of Military Families Speak Out, an organization of people who are opposed to war against Iraq and who have family members in the military. Lessin adds: "A full and complete Congressional discussion of the issues and all options must precede any move towards war, because of the irreparable harm that would result."
"President Bush recently told journalists that whether we go to war ‘is not up to you, it’s up to me,’" says Representative John Conyers. "The Founding Fathers did not establish an imperial presidency with war-making power. The Constitution clearly reserves that for Congress."
How Doe v Bush Differs from Other Suits Challenging Presidential Authority to Wage War:
The plaintiffs argue that their case is distinguishable from the Vietnam War cases and the case brought prior to the first Persian Gulf War. They point out that the cases challenging the executive branch’s authority to wage war in Vietnam were brought long after that war had started. By the time the courts heard those cases, the U.S. Congress had passed a series of military appropriations financing the war and had passed legislation extending the military draft. Presently, Congress has not passed any military appropriations to finance an invasion of Iraq and has not reinstated the draft.
In the case brought in 1990 by Members of Congress challenging the authority of President Bush’s father to wage the first Persian Gulf War, the court ruled, contrary to Judge Tauro’s ruling on Monday, that the matter was not a political question and could be subject to judicial review. However, in that case, the court denied the requested injunction solely on the grounds that war did not appear imminent at that time. The Doe v Bush plaintiffs point out that, according to the President and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, the nation is weeks, if not days, away from a military invasion of Iraq. They argue that their case is far more ripe than the 1990 case. They further argue that U.S. special operations forces are already in Iraq, laying the groundwork for a massive military invasion.
CONTACTS:Carol Klenfner (646) 495-4978
Andy Morris (646) firstname.lastname@example.org
John Bonifaz, (617) 524-2675 or (617) 529-4611 (cell)
Charles Richardson and Nancy Lessin, (617) 522-9323,
(617) 320-5301 (cell), (508) 277-9466 (cell)
DATE: February 26, 2003
FOR RELEASE: Immediate