Court again urged to require Congress' approval for war

December 01, 1990|By Lyle Denniston | Lyle Denniston,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- Forty-five Democrats in the House, saying that "war certainly looms on the immediate horizon," renewed their plea to a federal judge yesterday to order President Bush to get permission from Congress for a U.S. military attack on Iraq.

"Every ordinary person understands that when an American army of nearly 400,000 soldiers launches an attack against an Iraqi army of over 1 million soldiers to dislodge Iraq from Kuwait, the resulting attack will constitute war," the lawmakers told U.S. District Judge Harold H. Greene in a formal court filing.

Such a war, they contend, cannot begin constitutionally without Congress' agreement in advance. "Where the president launches an attack of sufficient magnitude to constitute war, the Constitution requires that he first seek congressional approval," the Democratic legislators contended.

Judge Greene is to hold a hearing Tuesday afternoon on the lawmakers' case against Mr. Bush.

The Democrats' argument was an attempt to answer claims by Bush administration lawyers that Judge Greene should not interfere with the president's handling of the military and diplomatic situation in the Persian Gulf by deciding when "war" was imminent.

Noting that the president was willing to ask the United Nations Security Council this week to approve the use of force against Iraq, the lawmakers said that Congress was entitled to the same opportunity.

Those who wrote the Constitution and gave Congress power to declare war "did not want war started at the behest of one man," they said.

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