The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Madelyn Hoffman, Executive Director, NJ Peace Action, (973) 876-1023 cell
Janet Donohue, Manager of Public Relations, Rutgers School of Law,, (973) 353-5553

Peace Action, Vets and Military Families Challenge Constitutionality of Iraq War at April 21 Hearing in Federal Court


WHAT: The constitutionality of the occupation of Iraq will be the subject of a Federal hearing.

WHEN:11:00 AM Eastern, Tuesday, April 21, 2009.

WHERE: Newark, New Jersey Federal District Court, 50 Walnut Street, Newark, NJ, Room #4105

WHO: Rutgers Professor Frank Askin, Director of the law school's Constitutional Litigation Clinic at Rutgers School of Law-Newark, and Bennet Zurofsky, Newark attorney who is general Counsel of New Jersey Peace Action, will appear on behalf of the plaintiffs to challenge the legality of the invasion of Iraq without a Congressional Declaration of War. The plaintiffs are New Jersey Peace Action, an affiliate of the nation's largest non-profit peace organization, Peace Action; an Iraq war veteran; and two New Jersey mothers, members of Military Families Speak Out, whose sons were deployed in Iraq.

BACKGROUND: "The current war in Iraq began in a highly questionable way when the Congress ceded its authority to declare war to the president. The U.S. is now dropping bombs from unmanned drones onto Pakistan, killing civilians, without war ever against Pakistan ever being declared by Congress. It is time for the courts to issue a ruling on the constitutionality of this practice so we can avoid making such foreign policy mistakes in the future and so the people can hold their congressional representatives accountable for past mistakes," said Madelyn Hoffman, Executive Director of NJ Peace Action. She also notes that Obama's Department of Justice have simply adopted the Bush Department of Justice motion instead of withdrawing or at least modifying its positions. The April 21 hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Jose L. Linares is in response to the government's motion to dismiss the Complaint. The brief in opposition to the motion to dismiss the lawsuit can be found at

The complaint was drafted by Rutgers' law students under Professor Askin's supervision, after a yearlong study of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and the adoption of the Constitution's Article I, Section 8, lodging the power to declare war in the Congress, rather than the President.

The suit does not ask the Court to take any direct action against ongoing activities in Iraq. It claims that the President is not authorized under the Constitution to launch a preemptive war against a sovereign nation and seeks a Declaration that can be used as a guide to the legality of such actions in the future.

Peace Action is the United States' largest peace and disarmament organization with over 100,000 members and nearly 100 chapters in 34 states, works to achieve the abolition of nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs and encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights.