February 27, 2012
War Powers Resolution Challenge to Libyan Mission Moot
Judge Richard W. Roberts (D.D.C.) on Tuesday dismissed as moot Whitney v. Obama, a civil case seeking a declaration and injunction against President Obama's commitment of U.S. troops to Libya last year. We previously posted on House Members' claim against the President here (with links to our past posts on the Libyan mission). (Judge Walton dismissed that case, Kucinich v. Obama, for lack of standing.)
The plaintiff brought the case under the War Powers Resolution. Judge Roberts declined to address the merits but instead ruled the case moot because the operation ended in 2011:
"[T]he [U.S.] ceased air operations in support of" NATO's Operation Unified Protector on October 31, 2011, and Whitney cites no authority for the proposition that the War Powers Resolution covers the continued presence of peaceful troops. Because "[t]he clash . . . has subsided, and what occurred during the dispute cannot be undone[,] "the court can grant no meaningful relief[.]" The declaratory judgment Whitney seeks would constitute an "improper advisory opinion" since no live dispute remains. Granting injunctive relief likewise would prove ineffectual, as the challenged actions have long since ceased. Accordingly, Whitney's claims are moot.
Op. at 6-7 (citations omitted). Judge Roberts also ruled that the action was neither capable of repetition (because there's no reasonable expectation that Whitney will suffer the same alleged violation of the WPR again), nor evading review (because "offensive wars initiated without congressional approval are not in th[is] category[,]" and neither are military missions "inherently short in duration," Campbell v. Clinton, 203 F.3d 19, 34 (D.C. Cir. 2000).
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