"ABM Treaty Still Lives"

"ABM Treaty still lives, say Congressmen Dennis J. Kucinich who sue to undo its 'unconstitutional' knifing by Bush without OK of Congress"

A War and Law League (WALL) News Report, June 21, 2002

Although President George W. Bush may consider the Anti-Ballistic Missile Limitation Treaty of 1972 (ABM Treaty) dead as of the 13th of June, 33 members of Congress headed by Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) maintain that it is still legally alive.

A lawsuit was filed against President Bush, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld on June 11. Congressmen asked the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, to declare Bush's action in terminating the treaty without congressional authorization unconstitutional. Bush's six-month termination notice to Russia expired as June 13 arrived.

"This is a case arguing that the president does not have the authority under the Constitution to terminate a treaty without a majority of both houses of Congress or two-thirds of the Senate," said Peter Weiss, the lead attorney, a constitutional lawyer of New York City, in a telephone conversation.

The 33 plaintiffs, all representatives, include nine from California, four from New York, and three each from Illinois and Ohio. All are Democrats except for one independent, from Vermont.

The Californians are Rep. Bob Filner of Chula Vista; Reps. Hilda Solis, Maxine Waters, and Dianne Watson, all of Los Angeles; Rep. Lynn Woolsey of Marin and Sonoma Counties; Rep. Sam Farr of Monterey, Salinas, and Santa Cruz; and Reps. Barbara Lee, George Miller, and Fortney H. (Pete) Stark, all from the Oakland-East Bay area. (Others are listed below.)

Rep. Kucinich, the lead plaintiff, from Cleveland, Ohio, has introduced bills to ban "the weaponization of space" and to establish a U.S. "Department of Peace."

Senators such as Russell D. Feingold (D-WI) who had thought of joining the suit were forbidden to do so by the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, headed by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV). The reason given had to do with legal services that the lawyers had offered without charge

The complaint

Pointing out that the issue of presidential termination of treaties has never been decided by the courts, the "Complaint for Declaratory Relief" calls the issue "of supreme importance to the constitutional framework of this nation as well as the treaty-based system of international law."

The complaint refers to "ample evidence that the Framers intended Congress to have a role in the termination as well as the making of treaties."

It charges that President Bush's "proposed termination" of the ABM Treaty on his own violates the treaty power in Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution and "is inconsistent with two centuries of practice and with the overall design of separation of powers and checks and balances of the Constitution."

Furthermore, the complaint charges, "Since treaties have the status of laws, the President's proposed termination of the ABM Treaty without the assent of Congress violates Article II, Section 3, of the Constitution, which obliges the President to take care that the laws be faithfully executed."

The plaintiffs seek a court order with two main parts

"(a) Declaring that the President's withdrawal from the ABM Treaty is without force and effect until such time as the President has requested and received the assent of a majority of both Houses of Congress or two thirds of the Senate;

"(b) Ordering that the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense and their subordinate officers are enjoined from taking any action in violation of the ABM Treaty until its termination has received the assent of a majority of both Houses of Congress or two thirds of the Senate."

The above was from a report by the War and Law League. The complete report is posted:



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