Law School Case Brief
Campbell v. Clinton - 340 U.S. App. D.C. 149, 203 F.3d 19 (2000)
The War Powers Resolution requires the United States President to submit a report within 48 hours in any case in which United States Armed Forces are introduced into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, and to terminate any use of United States Armed Forces with respect to which a report was submitted or required to be submitted, unless the United States Congress has declared war or has enacted a specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces within 60 days.
On March 24, 1999, President Clinton announced the commencement of NATO air and cruise missile attacks on Yugoslav targets. Two days later, he submitted to Congress a report, "consistent with the War Powers Resolution," detailing the circumstances necessitating the use of armed forces, the deployment's scope and expected duration, and asserting that he had taken the actions pursuant to his authority as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive. U.S. Congress then voted down a declaration of war and an authorization of the air strikes, but it also voted against requiring the President to immediately end U.S. participation in the NATO Operation and voted to fund the involvement. The conflict between NATO and Yugoslavia continued for 79 days, ending on June 10 with Yugoslavia's agreement to withdraw its forces from Kosovo and allow deployment of a NATO-led peacekeeping force.
Appellants, 31 congressmen opposed to U.S. involvement in the Kosovo intervention, filed suit prior to termination of that conflict seeking a declaratory judgment that the President's use of American forces against Yugoslavia was unlawful under both the War Powers Clause of the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution ("the WPR"). The WPR required the President to submit a report within 48 hours in any case in which United States Armed Forces were introduce into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities was clearly indicated by the circumstances, and to terminate any use of United States Armed Forces with respect to which a report was submitted unless the Congress has declared war or has enacted a specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces within 60 days. Appellants claimed that the President did submit a report sufficient to trigger the WPR on March 26, or in any event was required to submit a report by that date, but nonetheless failed to end U.S. involvement in the hostilities after 60 days. The Government challenged the jurisdiction of the federal courts to adjudicate the claim on three separate grounds: the case is moot; appellants lack standing, as the district court concluded; and the case is non-justiciable.
Did the federal courts have jurisdiction to adjudicate present claim?
The federal appellate court held that the congressmen lacked standing, therefore, it was not necessary for the Court to decide whether there were other jurisdictional defects. According to the Court, appellants had ample legislative authority that it could exercise to stop appellee's war making, and thus, appellants lacked the power to challenge such executive action in court.
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