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Sunday, February 25, 2024 | Back issues
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Obama Cleared for U.S. Troops in Libya Conflict

WASHINGTON (CN) - The bipartisan group of U.S. congressmen who sued President Barack Obama for violating the War Power Act by deploying U.S. troops to Libya does not have standing to sue, a federal judge ruled.

Reps. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, Ron Paul, R-Texas, Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., Dan Burton, R-Ind., Michael Capuano, D-Ma., Howard Coble, R-N.C., Walter Jones, R-N.C., John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., John Duncan Jr., R-Tenn., and Timothy Johnson, R-Ill., sued Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in June for their "decision to intervene in a civil war and expend what is now approaching $1 billion at a time of great economic stress."

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton dismissed the case Thursday, saying the representatives lack legislative or taxpayer standing since Obama did not act against the law, even though the House passed a resolution on June 3 that declared that the president can't "deploy, establish, or maintain the presence of units and member of the [U.S.] Armed Forces on the ground in Libya."

At the time, the representatives estimated that the Obama administration had already spent $550 million in the Libyan rebellion just in the first 10 days of its involvement there. The money came from funds Congress had set aside for overseas contingency operations that can be used only for operations related to the global war on terrorism.

"The defendants assert that the complaint must be dismissed because the claims alleged in the complaint are nonjusticiable," Walton wrote. "Essentially, the defendants maintain that the plaintiffs have not satisfied the elements of legislative or taxpayer standing ... and that the plaintiffs' claims raise political questions that are 'inappropriate for judicial resolution.'"

Obama deployed troops to Libya based on the independent authority given to him by the War Powers Resolution, which allows him 60 days to carry out conditional combat operations, according to the 23-page decision. Because of this, Obama did not nullify an act of Congress.

Walton also backed Obama's spending on the war because of the broad discretion allowed for spending the set-aside funds.

"'It is evident that' the plaintiffs are 'firmly committed' to ending U.S. military actions in Libya, 'but standing is not measured by the intensity of the litigant[s'] interest or the fervor of [their] advocacy," he concluded.

Walton granted the administration's motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.

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