News Release

Last Night’s House Vote Makes It Official: The Bombing of Yugoslavia is Illegal


Professor of Constitutional and International Law at the University of Pittsburgh

Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights

Lobel and Ratner have litigated numerous cases challenging illegal wars including Dellums v. Bush, the case that forced President Bush to obtain congressional authority for the Gulf War in 1991. In a joint statement released today, they said: “In a remarkable vote against the war in Yugoslavia, the House of Representatives, by a vote of 213 to 213, failed to give the President the constitutionally required authorization he needed to carry on the air war against Yugoslavia. The Constitution grants Congress the sole power to declare war. It must give its affirmative assent. It did not do so. Contrary to the President’s statement that he will continue this war, he has no authority to do so. It would be a remarkable act of executive hubris and illegal as well to continue the bombing. It is a serious subversion of our constitutional structure (and is impeachable). His only option is to end the aerial bombardment and negotiate a peaceful solution.”

Relevant legal citations:

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

The War Powers Resolution, 50 U.S.C.A. Sections 1541-1548. Section 2(c): “The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.”