News Release

War Powers Violation Today?

WASHINGTON — From all indications, today will mark the first time since enactment of the 1973 War Powers Resolution that a President has openly violated the termination requirements of that law.

Air strikes against Yugoslavia began on March 24. The House of Representatives refused to give approval for the air war in a stunning tie vote of 213 to 213 on April 28. Today (May 25) marks 60 days since President Clinton gave Congress official notice. Under the War Powers Resolution law, if the President does not have explicit authorization, he has 60 days to “terminate any use” of forces.

Legal scholars Michael Ratner and Jules Lobel — who litigated Dellums v. Bush, the case that forced President Bush to obtain congressional authority for the Gulf War in 1991 — are currently representing Rep. Tom Campbell (R.-Ca.) in Campbell v. Clinton, pending in Federal District Court for the District of Columbia. A hearing is likely next week.

In a joint statement released today, Ratner and Lobel said: “The President was violating the Constitution on the first day of the war; now amazingly enough he becomes the first President ever to violate the termination provision of the War Powers Resolution. Bombings and killings are being carried out in our names, but without the consent of the American people through their representatives. It’s a very sad day. The imperial Presidency has reappeared with a vengeance.”

Interviews are available with:

MICHAEL RATNER
Vice President, Center for Constitutional Rights
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JULES LOBEL
Professor of Constitutional and International Law at the University of Pittsburgh
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CARLIN MEYER
Professor of Law at New York Law School and author of the Pittsburgh Law Review article titled “Imbalance of Powers: Can Congressional Lawsuits Serve as Counterweight?”

Relevant legal citations:

U.S. Constitution: Article I, Section 8. “The Congress shall have power to… declare war…”

The War Powers Resolution: “Within sixty calender days after a report is submitted… the President shall terminate any use of United States Armed Forces… unless the Congress (1) has declared war or has enacted a specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces, (2) has extended by law such sixty-day period, or (3) is physically unable to meet as a result of an armed attack upon the United States. Such sixty-day period shall be extended for not more than an additional thirty days if the President determines and certifies to Congress in writing that unavoidable military necessity respecting the safety of United States Armed Forces requires the continued use of such armed forces in the course of bringing about a prompt removal of such forces.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167