Why Mike Capuano's Suit Against President Obama Should Lead to his Run for Senate

It’s on days like this that I really like Mike Capuano. The Congressman from Somerville is one of 10 members of Congress to file suit against President Obama. Now, a move like that would normally make liberals like me go wha? But this is a unique circumstance.

The U.S. has bombed Libya now for three months, and yet President Obama insists we are not at war. And even if we were, he argues, his policies are not in violation of the Vietnam-era’s War Powers Act, which basically says a President gets up to, yes, three months to try on for size an international skirmish before declaring it a war. Capuano calls bs on that.

He says the War Powers Act is a terrible bill and unconstitutional besides. The only thing that matters is what the Constitution says. And the Constitution says only Congress shall declare war. Using U.S. forces to bomb a country sounds an awful lot like war, Capuano reasons, so Obama needs to seek Congress’ approval.



Capuano believes this so strongly that he not only supported a resolution on this idea, not only delivered an impassioned speech about it on the House floor, but he’s now sued the President, one of a handful of Democrats to join the suit, which is otherwise comprised of neo-right, Ayn-Rand-reading, Tea-Partying Republicans like Paul Ryan. Capuano went on CNN last night to explain his rationale. He said that though the move pains him — he’s a fan of Obama’s — the issue in Libya is about more than Libya. It’s about the balance of power that the nation’s forefathers enshrined as law in the Constitution. Capuano says he believes in that more than he believes in any political party.



I must say I’m impressed with this sort of rhetoric. Though six other members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation voted for the House resolution, Capuano is the only one who went a step further and sued the President. That decision, one person close to Capuano told me, was not reached easily. But it’s exactly the sort of bold stance around which progressives and even conservatives in the commonwealth could rally. Capuano’s said he’ll decide this summer whether to run for Senate in 2012. A move like yesterday’s shows how it’s not yet too late to go for it.