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War Powers Debated in Suit

February 21, 2003|From Associated Press

BOSTON — The federal government Thursday asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit that seeks to bar President Bush from starting a war against Iraq without an explicit declaration of war from Congress.

The federal court should not get involved in this "delicate international political scenario," the government's attorneys argued in court papers. "Such an intrusion could embolden Iraq and thus reduce the chances of a peaceful resolution."

A group of U.S. servicemen, their parents and six congressmen filed the lawsuit last week, arguing the resolution Congress approved in October supporting military action against Iraq did not specifically declare war and unlawfully ceded the decision to the president.

A hearing on the injunction request is scheduled for Monday.

The government argues in its motion to dismiss that the October resolution gives the president permission to go to war if he deems it necessary to protect national security. The government also says the president has broad military powers as commander in chief of the armed forces.

The plaintiffs include Reps. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), Jose E. Serrano (D-N.Y.), and Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas.

In 1990, before the Persian Gulf War, a federal judge rejected a similar lawsuit that 54 members of Congress filed against former President Bush, the current president's father.

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