ST. PAUL, Minn. — A new federal law prohibiting governors from withholding consent for National Guard missions outside the country is unconstitutional, the state of Minnesota contends in a lawsuit filed Wednesday.
"We want to resolve this matter in the courtroom forum rather than in a direct conflict, and I've been asked by the governor to do that," Atty. Gen. Hubert H. Humphrey III told reporters.
If Congress had not taken away governors' power to veto National Guard assignments, Gov. Rudy Perpich would have halted a Minnesota National Guard mission to Honduras last week, the suit said.
Perpich last week announced plans for the suit, but did not seek a court injunction to try to stop guard flights to Central America on Jan. 22-23.
Incident at Airport
Opponents of President Reagan's policies in Central America who protested the missions were doused with water by military personnel in subzero temperatures Jan. 22 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Perpich, a Democrat, was "very much concerned about" last week's Central American mission, the third involving Minnesota National Guard units this month, Humphrey said.
Perpich did not try to halt the mission, however, because its assignments included delivering medical supplies to Honduran nationals, Humphrey said. Minnesota Air National Guard units also ferried Nevada guard units to Honduras and took Florida guard units back to their home base.
Might Refuse Mission
No more Central American missions are scheduled for Minnesota troops, and Humphrey suggested that if more missions were to be scheduled, Perpich might refuse.
"I think that this lawsuit sends a very strong message that if there are actions like this in the future, where the governor feels it is inappropriate, he may take that action," he said.