On the same day that ex-Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi was killed, a federal judge threw out a lawsuit by 10 Democratic and Republican House members who challenged President Obama’s authority to intervene militarily in Libya without congressional approval back in March.
Led by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, who lost in a similar suit he filed against President George W. Bush nine years ago, the bipartisan group alleged the president violated the War Powers Act.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton referenced that case in dismissing this one on Thursday.
“The question whether members of Congress have standing to sue Executive Branch officials is neither novel nor unsettled,” Walton quoted from the 2002 case Kucinich v. Bush. That judge was referencing “a line of cases that have all but foreclosed the idea that a member of Congress can assert legislative standing to maintain a suit against a member of the Executive Branch.”
After calling Kucinich’s involvement in both cases “interesting,” Walton chastised the members for wasting the court’s time on a settled matter.
“While there may conceivably be some political benefit in suing the President and the Secretary of Defense, in light of shrinking judicial budgets, scarce judicial resources, and a heavy caseload, the Court finds it frustrating to expend time and effort adjudicating the relitigation of settled questions of law,” he wrote.
Kucinich and Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., said on Thursday that they might appeal.
“This lawsuit is not just about checking executive power, but also about securing the right of members of Congress to defend the constitutionally required balance of power in court,” the duo wrote. “We believe that we have cause for a meritorious appeal. We will consult with our colleagues who are a party to the case before making any decision for all participants.”
The other members in the Kucinich v. Obama suit are Democratic Reps. Michael Capuano of Massachusetts and John Conyers Jr. of Michigan and Republican Reps. Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland; Dan Burton of Indiana; Howard Coble of North Carolina; John Duncan of Tennessee; Tim Johnson of Illinois; and Ron Paul of Texas.