Constitutional Consensus Emerges In Congress
June 16, 2011 • 2:26PM

Updated 9:30pm EDT -- The following are excerpts of press interviews about the suit filed against President Obama for violation in Libya of the War Powers Act, given over the last 48 hours by several of the 10 Congressmen involved in that suit.

* * *

1. Cong. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) was interviewed, on June 16, 2011, on C-Span, by "Washington Journal" interviewer Peter Sien.

"This lawsuit is the only way we can re-set the imbalance that has occurred Constitutionally, where the Founders at the very beginning intended, that the war-power be placed in the hands of the people's representatives, the Congress, and not in the hands of an Executive, who, when we were under England, could wage war wantonly, at the expense of the country and its people. So they divided this power. Now, what's happened is, that this Administration — and others, frankly — have decided to appropriate the war-power, and therefore create a Constitutional challenge. So this lawsuit is really aimed at trying to reset our system of checks and balances, and attempting to restore Congress's rightful role as a co-equal branch of Government, and to make sure that we're not prosecuting wars willy-nilly around the world, at a time of great turmoil, and at a time of great financial distress... "Now, this time, if we get standing, I think that we are on a course to resolve one of the great Constitutional issues, of whether or not any President — it's not just about this President, I would prefer to keep this almost impersonal — whether any President has the ability to take this country to war, absent the approval of the directly-elected representatives of the people. Remember, our President is chosen by the Electoral College, not directly-elected, chosen by Electors of the Electoral College. We, as members of Congress, are directly-elected. The Founders had this genius, to be able to determine that those who are directly-elected have placed in their hands this awesome power to determine whether or not to commit not just to war, but the lives of our men and women, to a theater where in one way or another they might be put in jeopardy. So this is a very important moment, if the court is willing to entertain it... "We feel, if we get standing, that we can win. But the court has to say — at last — that Congress does have a position here, that absent a court intervention, how is the Constitution protected from any Executive, who decides to appropriate for

himself or herself in the future, the power to wage war. This is a very serious question, that relates to whether or not our nation is going to be safe, whether or not America will continue to remain a democracy, or whether we're going to become something else, as a result of more and more power arrogating into the hands of a single individual."

* * *

2. Cong. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) was interviewed, along with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) (who is not a party of the lawsuit) on June 15, 2011, on CNN, by anchor John King.

"KING: So let's explore the changing politics and the strange bedfellows' aspect of that shift with two members of Congress at the forefront. Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio. Congressman Kucinich, I want to start with you because you filed this lawsuit over Libya. "The president sent up a packet of information tonight including a legal memo asserting the administration is not in violation of the war powers resolution. He says what's happening in Libya does not meet the bar for hostilities abroad. Do you agree? "KUCINICH: No. Our lawsuit, by the way, addresses Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution and the War Powers Act and we assert that the president has violated both the Constitution and not coming to Congress and the War Powers Act and not getting approval from Congress within the requisite 60 days. "KING: And so you're not swayed tonight at all. "KUCINICH: No. I mean I've seen the argument already, John. It just — it doesn't pass legal muster. And I think that when we get to court with this if we can get standing, we will win.

"KING: Senator, do you share that opinion? Is the commander in chief of the United States in violation of the law? "PAUL: Yes. I agree completely with Congressman Kucinich and I think people on the left and the right can both believe in the Constitution and our founders were very specific. They wanted the initiation of war to be by Congress. They say Congress shall declare war, but they didn't want the president to be able to go to war unilaterally without any congressional authority. In fact, candidate Barack Obama said exactly that in 2007. We wish the president would act more like the candidate Obama... "KING: Any concern Congressman Kucinich that Gadhafi could make the case I'm going to hang on, America is getting soft. "KUCINICH: Listen, there are lot of people in the world that we would prefer weren't presiding over their governments. But our first challenge is to abide by our Constitution and when we fail to abide by the Constitution everything else that follows is going to be poison. So we must go back to the founders' wisdom, which was to separate the war power from the executive and to — and to have it firmly reside in the hands of the Congress. And that's what — why we went to court today, John, and I'm hopeful that we will get a decision that once and for all we will establish that the founders intended for Congress to have the war power that no president can take this country into war on his own


* * *

3. Cong. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) was interviewed on June 15, 2011, on Fox Business News, by anchor Andrew Napolitano.

"[JONES] ... The Constitution says Congress shall declare war. In this case, President Obama didn't even talk to Congress. Yes, he talked to the leadership in the House and Senate, but there are 435 members of the House and there are 100 Senators. He should have come to Congress in a formal way and said, look, I think I need the authority to possibly go into Libya. He did not do that. He bypassed us... "We don't have a king in this country. We never have and we never will. We have a president who is elected by the people. We have a Congress that is elected by the people. And we have a Constitution which is supposed to lead this nation and follow is the Constitution — you are exactly right. The way he totally neglected to come to Congress and went up there and bombed Libya — Yes, Gadhafi is an evil man, but how many evil people do WE have around the world that we would like to remove? You don't go into other countries and bomb them without justification."

* * *

4. Cong. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) was interviewed on June 15, 2011, on CNN, by anchor Eliot Spitzer.

"[CAPUANO]: ... The war and peace the most important thing that we do down here. I think the Constitution is pretty clear. I think it's very clear that only Congress has the power to declare war. And for me, that's kind of paramount above all else. It's — there's really no other issue that is more important... "It's not even the War Powers Act that I put my — hang my hat on. It's the Constitution. I think the War Powers Act in and of itself is already a compromise giving any president 60 to 90 days to come to Congress. I think the constitution is clear that only Congress — doesn't even mention the president. Only Congress has the authority to declare war. And I know that some people might want to split hairs on the declaration of war. But I think when you're shooting missiles at a sovereign country, I don't see how you can find it as anything other than war."