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Former Rep. William Jefferson may soon get date to report to prison
Apr-19-2012 712 0


A court hearing Friday could determine whether former Rep. William Jefferson, D-New Orleans, will begin serving his 13-year corruption sentence before summer. Some legal experts expect federal prosecutors to ask Judge T.S. Ellis III, who presided over Jefferson's six-week 2009 trial, to revoke Jefferson's $50,000 bail and set a date for him to begin his sentence.

Ellis also could allow Jefferson to self report by a court-imposed deadline.

After sentencing Jefferson, Ellis rejected calls by prosecutors to imprison him immediately and instead allowed him to remain free with an electronic monitor pending resolution of his appeals.

Friday's hearing was scheduled after Jefferson's lawyers failed to meet last week's deadline for filing an appeal with the full 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Legal experts said the decision indicates his lawyers will go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge a unanimous ruling last month by a three-judge 4th Circuit panel rejecting Jefferson's request for a new trial.

The high court probably won't decide whether to take the case -- and they accept only a tiny percentage -- until next fall.

University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias, who has been closely following the case, said it is possible prosecutors will argue the unanimous verdict by the 4th Circuit panel makes it unlikely he'll succeed with his Supreme Court appeal.

Ellis "has been pretty strict when it comes to corruption cases," Tobias said, "and if the prosecutors move to (set a date to report to prison) the judge may well grant it."

Kevin Thomas, a consultant with the MPM Group, which helps clients with sentence-mitigation efforts, said he thinks it's likely prosecutors will prevail.

"It was unusual for him (Jefferson) to stay out after sentencing and I would be shocked if the judge let him stay out now that the appellate court has ruled," Thomas said. "But then again his attorney (Robert Trout) is formidable and he could talk a starving dog off a meat wagon."

Jefferson, 65, isn't likely to be remanded into prison immediately, though. In a filing with Judge Ellis, lead prosecutor Mark Lytle expressed no objections if Jefferson chose not to attend Friday's session at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Va.

Neither Lytle nor Trout would comment Wednesday.

Tobias said it's no surprise Jefferson's lawyers decided not to file an appeal with the full 4th Circuit, given the unanimous ruling by the three-judge panel.

In a 64-page ruling issued March 26, the appellate judges rejected the legal arguments by Jefferson that Judge Ellis erroneously instructed the jury about what the accepted practice is for official acts by a member of Congress.

Jefferson's lawyers argued the government had dramatically expanded the definition -- taking it beyond what most consider official acts, such as casting votes, introducing bills and committee work -- to include influencing foreign officials in Western Africa on behalf of private business executives.

"The (judge's) instructions did not in any way supplant the statutory definition of what constitutes an official act; it simply explained to the jury that an official act need not be prescribed by statute, but rather may include acts that a congressman customarily performs," according to the three judges.

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Jim Malewitz Jul-21-2016 128 0
Texas’ voter identification law violates the U.S. law prohibiting racial discrimination in elections, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed previous rulings that the 2011 voter ID law — which stipulates the types of photo identification election officials can and cannot accept at the polls — does not comply with the Voting Rights Act.

The full court's ruling delivered the strongest blow yet to what is widely viewed as the nation’s strictest voter ID law. Under the law, most citizens (some, like people with disabilities, can be exempt) must show one of a handful of types of identification before their ballots can be counted: a state driver's license or ID card, a concealed handgun license, a U.S. passport, a military ID card, or a U.S citizenship certificate with a photo.

Texas is among nine states categorized as requiring "strict photo ID," and its list of acceptable forms is the shortest.

Texas’ losing streak continued in its efforts to defend its law, fighting challenges from the U.S. Department of Justice, minority groups and voting rights advocates. Wednesday's ruling did not immediately halt the voter ID law, which has been in effect since 2013. The judges instructed a lower court to draw up a remedy.

In a statement on Wednesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called the ruling “unfortunate.”

“It is imperative that the State government safeguards our elections and ensures the integrity of our democratic process. Preventing voter fraud is essential to accurately reflecting the will of Texas voters during elections,” he said.

Experts have closely watched the case, calling it one of two such battles that the U.S. Supreme Court could ultimately settle, helping to determine the point that states — which assert they are protecting the integrity of elections — cross over into disenfranchisement.

The 5th Circuit is considered one of the country’s most conservative appellate courts, with 1o of its 15 members having been appointed by Republican presidents.

The case centered on whether Texas discriminated against Hispanic and African-American voters when it passed the legislation: Senate Bill 14.

Paxton, Gov. Greg Abbott and other proponents argued that the law was needed to bolster security at the ballot box by preventing voter fraud, but opponents cite the paucity of proven in-person voter fraud in the state and argue the intent was to undercut the electoral strength of the state’s growing minority population — people less likely to have photo identification or the means to obtain an election certificate.

Experts have testified that more than 600,000 Texans lack such identification, though not all of them have necessarily tried to vote. Those citizens can obtain “election identification certificates” free of charge, but only if they are able to produce a copy of their birth certificate.
Standing before the judges in May, opponents of the identification law argued that not all voter ID rules discriminate, but Texas’ unusually short list of what’s acceptable is burdensome for certain voters — particularly minorities.

Texas argued that opponents of the law had "failed to identify a single individual who faces a substantial obstacle to voting because of SB 14." In Wednesday's ruling, the judges rejected that argument.

"For one thing, the district court found that multiple Plaintiffs were turned away when they attempted to vote, and some of those Plaintiffs were not offered provisional ballots to attempt to resolve the issue," the ruling stated.

The ruling also affirmed the lower court's finding that Texas' "lackluster educational efforts resulted in additional burdens on Texas voters."

Seven of the court's 15 judges backed the decision in full. Two other judges backed most of the decision. Dissenting judges wrote that the "en banc court is gravely fractured and without a consensus. There is no majority opinion, but only a plurality opinion that draws six separate dissenting opinions and a special concurrence."

More specific to the Texas law, some of the dissenting judges wrote that "requiring a voter to verify her identity with a photo ID at the polling place is a reasonable requirement widely supported by Texans of all races and members of the public belonging to both political parties."

Voting rights advocates were quick to praise the appeals court's overall decision Wednesday.

“We have repeatedly proven — using hard facts — that the Texas voter ID law discriminates against minority voters,” Gerry Hebert, executive director of the Campaign Legal Center and an attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a statement. “The 5th Circuit’s full panel of judges now agrees, joining every other federal court that has reviewed this law. We are extremely pleased with this outcome.”

Gov. Rick Perry signed the law in 2011, kickstarting its convoluted journey through the federal court system.

Early legal challenges put the rules on hold until 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act, ruling that Texas and other states with a history of racial discrimination no longer automatically needed federal pre-clearance when changing election laws.

In August 2015, a three-judge 5th Circuit panel ruled that the law did have a “discriminatory effect,” in violation of the Voting Rights Act, although it did not constitute a poll tax as a lower court had ruled.

Wednesday's ruling affirmed those findings, and sent the case back to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

"The district court’s lengthy opinion goes through the evidence supporting its findings in great detail," according to the opinion on the discrimination finding. "A few examples show that the district court relied on concrete evidence regarding the excessive burdens faced by Plaintiffs in making its findings."

The appeals court, however, reversed the district court's ruling that the Legislature had intended to discriminate against certain voters. Though some evidence "could support" that conclusion, the ruling said, the overall findings were "infirm." The judges told the district court to reconsider the evidence.

On Wednesday, Abbott cheered that finding, but lamented the rest of the ruling.

"Voter fraud is real, and it undermines the integrity of the election process," he said in a statement.

It's not clear what that court's remedy might look like. Experts called it unlikely that the court would throw out the law completely.

"The remedy is NOT going to be to strike the Texas voter ID law as a whole," but instead to fashion some kind of relief that give people who have a reasonable impediment to getting an ID the chance to get one," Rick Hasen, an elections expert at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, wrote on his blog.

"Further, given the timing of the election, the trial court has to craft some kind of interim relief and then can figure out a more comprehensive solution after the next election," Hasen added.

After each loss, Texas has appealed. Through April, Paxton’s office had spent more than $3.5 million defending the law in several lawsuits, its records show.

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Reena Flores Jul-17-2016 138 0
After days of violence and heightened racial tensions in the U.S., the White House responded this week to an online petition asking the federal government to formally label the Black Lives Matter movement as a "terror group."

"Terrorism is defined as 'the use of violence and intimidation in pursuit of political aims,'" read the "We The People" petition, created July 6 on the White House website. "This definition is the same definition used to declare ISIS and other groups, as terrorist organizations."

Black Lives Matter, the petition said, "earned this title due to its actions in Ferguson, Baltimore, and even at a Bernie Sanders rally, as well as all over the United States and Canada." It asked the Pentagon to recognize the group as such "on the grounds of principle, integrity, morality, and safety."

Because the online document received at least 100,000 signatures -- at the time of this reporting, it had garnered over 141,000 names -- the White House was automatically prompted to respond.

The "We the People" team noted that "The White House plays no role in designating domestic terror organizations," nor does the U.S. government "generate a list of domestic terror organizations."

"[T]herefore," the response read, "we are not able to address the formal request of your petition."

The White House then went further: Acknowledging that it was a "difficult time" for the country -- and that the debate remains a "charged" one -- the statement additionally prompted petition signers to consider President Obama's words calling for compassion towards the movement.

"I think it's important for us to also understand that the phrase 'black lives matter' simply refers to the notion that there's a specific vulnerability for African Americans that needs to be addressed," the president said last week, talking to a Washington, D.C. gathering of enforcement officials, civil rights leaders, elected officials and other activists on the issue of racial disparities in the criminal justice system. "We shouldn't get too caught up in this notion that somehow people who are asking for fair treatment are somehow, automatically, anti-police, are trying to only look out for black lives as opposed to others. I think we have to be careful about playing that game."

The petition came on the heels of deadly officer-involved shootings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Falcon Heights, Minnesota, and after days of Black Lives Matter protests for more police accountability.

On July 7, one day after the petition published online, seven law enforcement officers policing a BLM demonstration in Dallas, Texas were shot and killed in a shower of sniper-like fire. And on Sunday, three more policemen were shot and killed in Baton Rouge.

Black Lives Matter protesters condemned the massacre in Dallas, and prominent members did the same after Sunday's Baton Rouge shooting of police officers.

One public voice of the movement, DeRay McKesson, urged peace after news of the Louisiana deaths broke.

"I'm waiting for more information like everybody else," McKesson told the New York Times. "I have more questions than answers."

"The movement began as a call to end violence," he said. "That call remains."

Errol Barnett contributed to this report.
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AP Jul-13-2016 97 0
The NAACP says Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has declined an invitation to address the group's upcoming convention, flouting established precedent and highlighting anew the GOP standard-bearer's struggle to attract support from nonwhite voters.

NAACP president Cornell William Brooks told CNN Tuesday that Trump had declined the group's invitation to speak at the Cincinnati gathering, scheduled from Saturday through Wednesday. Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is slated to speak there next Monday, which is also opening day of the Republican National Convention across the state in Cleveland.

The Trump campaign did not respond immediately Tuesday night to an Associated Press request for comment.

Brooks said the Trump campaign cited scheduling conflicts with the GOP convention, where Trump will formally accept the party's nomination. Brooks argued Trump should have made the time amid the racially charged fallout of videotaped killings of black men by police in Louisiana and Minnesota, followed by the killings of five Dallas police officers by a black sniper.

"We represent an occasion for those running for president to speak to the nation's most critical issues at a critical hour in this country," Brooks said on CNN. "You can't run for president and not talk about police misconduct and police brutality. You can't run for president and not talk about the nation's civil rights agenda."

He called the gathering an opportunity for Clinton and Trump to give civil rights leaders "a window into not only their policies, but into their heart and character as a candidate."

The NAACP's official Twitter account used part of Brooks' interview to chide Trump. That tweet was quickly recirculated on Clinton's official account.

Republican nominees John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 addressed the NAACP convention, though Romney was booed when he told attendees he'd be better for black families than President Barack Obama had been during his first term.

Black voters, who already helped propel Clinton to the Democratic nomination over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, will be integral to the general election outcome.

African-Americans cast about 13 percent of presidential ballots in 2012, according to exit polls conducted for the AP and television networks. Obama drew about 93 percent of the black vote, critical to his margins in such battlegrounds as Ohio and Florida.

Trump has boasted that he could win as much as one-quarter of the black vote nationally. The largest share won by any Republican nominee since 1980 is about 12 percent.
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JOSH LEDERMAN Jul-07-2016 123 0
President Barack Obama called on American law enforcement to root out bias in its ranks and said all Americans should be troubled by frequent police shootings of blacks and Hispanics, insisting that fatal incidents in Minnesota and Louisiana are not isolated.

Adding his voice to a growing public outcry, Obama said the shootings were symptoms of a "broader set of racial disparities" in the justice system that aren't being fixed quickly enough.

He ticked through a list of statistics he said showed concerns about bias are real: African-Americans being shot by police or arrested at more than twice the rate of white Americans.

"When incidents like this occur, there's a big chunk of our fellow citizenry that feels as if it's because of the color of their skin, they are not being treated the same," Obama said. "And that hurts. And that should trouble all of us."

Obama's diagnosis of the problem reflected a growing sense of frustration and willingness to speak out publicly about police killings despite the risk of making law enforcement officers feel under attack.

The president spoke in a hastily arranged appearance at a hotel in Warsaw just after arriving in Poland for a NATO summit. He largely echoed comments he made earlier in the day in a Facebook post as the two deaths were increasingly capturing the country's attention.

In Louisiana, 37-year-old Alton Sterling was fatally shot Tuesday as he tussled with two white officers outside a convenience store in a predominantly black neighborhood. The shooting was caught on tape and went viral online.

The next day in Minnesota, 32-year-old Philando Castile was shot to death during a traffic stop. His girlfriend posted video of the aftermath live on Facebook, saying he had been shot "for no apparent reason" while reaching for his wallet, as an officer had asked.

Though the White House has sought to avoid commenting on specific cases before all facts are known, in this case Obama weighed in while both shootings are still being investigated, including a civil rights probe by the U.S. Justice Department into the Louisiana incident.

Similar statements about other shootings have stoked tensions with law enforcement, including with FBI Director James Comey, who has suggested the intense public focus on police officers' conduct, fueled by caught-on-camera moments, may be inhibiting officers as they try to protect their communities.

Aiming to pre-empt that concern, Obama said that speaking out about the issue is not an attack on police. He emphasized that he and other Americans appreciate the risks police officers take and mourn officers who die in the line of duty.

"When people say 'black lives matter,' that doesn't mean blue lives don't matter," Obama said, referring to uniformed officers. "That just means all lives matter."

Yet despite Obama's efforts to bridge misunderstandings between African-Americans and the police, the problem clearly persists. In 2014, Obama created a task force to develop modern policing guidelines, and he urged local communities and policing agencies to implement those recommendations drafted by the Justice Department.

Obama said if anything good could come from recent deadly incidents, it would be that more parts of the country would adopt those recommendations.

"Change has been too slow," Obama said. "We have to have a greater sense of urgency about this."

Obama has wrestled for much of his presidency with the policing issue, the "Black Lives Matter" movement and his role as the first black president in responding to them. After the issue burst into the spotlight in 2012 with the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida, Obama insisted the U.S. take the issue seriously and added, "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon."
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Cristian Farias Jun-23-2016 166 0
The Supreme Court couldn't reach a majority for or against President Barack Obama's plan to defer deportation for millions Thursday, effectively leaving his executive actions on hold and undocumented immigrants in limbo.

The split decision means a lower court ruling that effectively blocked the program will stand, and no national precedent will be set as to whether the president acted within the law when he announced them in November 2014.

The case, United States v. Texas, stood to test the limits of executive power in the face of congressional inaction on immigration -- a chance for Obama to prove that he, like his predecessors, had the authority to help millions of undocumented immigrants who want to live here without fear of deportation.

On that issue, the justices had sent an ominous sign to the president when they first agreed to hear the case, asking the Obama administration and the 26 states challenging it to explain whether the deportation relief plan violated the Constitution.

No lower court had previously addressed that question, leading to the speculation that a conservative majority on the Supreme Court had every intention of turning the dispute into a constitutional showdown -- perhaps to send a message to Obama about the separation of powers in his last year in office.

But the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February changed the landscape, and a diminished court had to hear the case just as the political branches were facing off over the confirmation of who would replace him on the bench.

That may explain why the justices largely skirted the constitutional issue at oral arguments, focusing instead on more technical legal matters, such as the meaning of "lawful presence" in immigration law and the doctrine of standing -- or Texas' ability to claim injury and sue over a policy area where Congress has given the executive branch broad latitude.

Obama relied on that latitude when he announced the centerpiece of his ambitious immigration plan, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents -- or DAPA -- which promised to grant a reprieve of deportation and work authorization to parents of U.S. citizens and others who are lawfully in the country.

But before the program could get off the ground, a coalition of states, led by Texas, sued the federal government in a small courthouse near the U.S.-Mexico border -- a move that legal observers viewed as an attempt to land the lawsuit before a sympathetic judge who might rule against the administration.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, the George W. Bush appointee who was assigned the case, turned out to be precisely that and then some: He not only issued a nationwide injunction that put the brakes on Obama's plan, but has also ruled sweepingly against the administration on issues of ethics that have left the Department of Justice and thousands of undocumented immigrants on edge.

The 4-4 decision that maintains the status quo will likely increase tension during an election season in which people are already energized on both sides of the debate over whether to use executive authority to act on immigration.
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AP Jun-04-2016 209 0
President Barack Obama shortened the sentences Friday of 42 people serving time for drug-related offenses, continuing a push for clemency that has ramped up in the final year of his administration.

Roughly half of the 42 receiving commutations Friday were serving life sentences. Most are nonviolent offenders, although a few were also charged with firearms violations. The White House said many of them would have already finished their sentences if they had been sentenced under current, less onerous sentencing guidelines.

The latest group of commutations brings to 348 the total number of inmates whose sentences Obama has commuted — more than the past seven presidents combined, the White House said. The pace of commutations and the rarer use of pardons are expected to increase as the end of Obama's presidency nears.

"He remains committed to using his clemency power throughout the remainder of the administration to give more deserving individuals that same second chance," White House counsel Neil Eggleston wrote in a blog post.

Eggleston added that the offenders receiving commutations had "more than repaid their debt to society and earned this second chance."

One of the offenders, Douglas Ray Dunkins Jr. of Fort Worth, Texas, had been held up by civil liberties groups as one of the most egregious examples of over-sentencing. Dunkins had only a minor shoplifting conviction on his prior record in 1993 when, at age 26, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiracy to possess and distribute crack cocaine, the American Civil Liberties Union said in a report. No drugs were found, but prosecutors used testimony from co-conspirators who testified in exchange for lighter sentences, the ACLU said.

The ACLU said Dunkins had worked for nearly a decade as a paralegal helping other inmates with legal work and wanted to mentor youth if he ever got out. Dunkins is slated to be released in October.

"The day-to-day of prison is taking an even greater toll on me. ... I wake up every day and pray in a cell that's white and grey with little room to move around in between me and my cellmate," Dunkins wrote in an opinion piece last year in The Guardian. "Clemency is something that I long for — not just for me, but for a lot of inmates who have served well over 20-plus years for crimes involving crack cocaine."

Though there's wide bipartisan support for a criminal justice overhaul, what had looked like a promising legislative opportunity in Obama's final year has mostly lost steam. As with Obama's other priorities, the chaotic presidential campaign has increasingly made cooperation among Republicans and Democrats in Congress difficult to achieve this year.

Obama has long called for getting rid of strict sentences for drug offenses, arguing they lead to excessive punishment and sky-high incarceration rates. With Obama's support, the Justice Department in recent years has directed prosecutors to rein in the use of harsh mandatory minimums.

The Obama administration has also expanded criteria for inmates applying for clemency, targeting nonviolent offenders who have behaved well in prison and would have received shorter sentences if convicted of the same crime a few years later. Civil liberties groups hailed that move but have since raised concerns that too few are actually receiving clemency under the policy.
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Jeremy Diamond Jun-03-2016 263 0
Donald Trump sought to tout his support among African-Americans on Friday by pointing out a black man in the crowd and calling him "my African-American."

"Oh, look at my African-American over here. Look at him," Trump said. "Are you the greatest?"

The remark didn't generate a noticeable response from Trump's audience.
Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks told CNN Trump was "just referring to a supporter in the crowd. There's no ill will intended, obviously." She added Trump was "grateful for this person's support."

Hicks also rejected the suggestion that Trump's use of the possessive "my" to refer to the supporter was racist, saying such a charge was "ridiculous."

Trump's remark came as he recalled an incident in March when a black supporter of his assaulted a protester at a rally in Arizona as he was being escorted out of the building by police.

The comment also comes as Trump is under fire for calling on the federal judge presiding over one of the lawsuits against Trump University to recuse himself because of his Mexican heritage.

Trump again argued Friday in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper that the judge is inherently biased against him because of the presumptive GOP nominee's plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The presumptive Republican nominee has repeatedly hit back at charges that he is racist by insisting he is "the least racist person that you have ever met."

Still, Trump's rhetoric has repeatedly drawn charges of racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia.
Trump kicked off his campaign by calling some undocumented immigrants from Mexico "rapists" and criminals and then stoked Islamophobic sentiment in December by calling for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."

Trump said in March that he believes "Islam hates us" and said last fall that a Black Lives Matter protester who disrupted his rally and was kicked and punched by Trump supporters probably "should have been roughed up."

Still, Trump has insisted that his campaign message will have enormous appeal among minority communities, particularly African-Americans and Hispanic Americans.

The de facto Republican nominee insists that his promise to bring jobs back to the U.S. and reduce unemployment in minority communities will draw those groups to his controversial candidacy.
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Rebecca Savransky May-25-2016 267 0
The Obamas are planning to rent a home in the Kalorama neighborhood of Washington, D.C., after the president's term is up, The National Journal reported Tuesday.

The family is staying in Washington so President Obama's youngest daughter, Sasha, can finish high school in the area.

The White House has not said which house the president and his family plan to move to, but their new home will be in walking distance of the ambassadorial residences of Britain, the European Union, France, Iceland and Portugal.

Obama was reportedly considering Kalorama or Embassy Row, but decided on Kalorama, the neighborhood just east of Massachusetts Avenue NW.

Obama will be the first president to stay in D.C. after his presidential term since Woodrow Wilson in 1921, according to DCist.
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Rebecca Kheel May-05-2016 338 0
Bush-era war authorizations do not give President Obama authority to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an Army officer argued in a lawsuit filed Wednesday against Obama.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. district court by an intelligence officer stationed in Kuwait who says he supports the fight against ISIS, but believes it is being carried out illegally because Congress hasn't authorized it.

"How could I honor my oath when I am fighting a war, even a good war, that the Constitution does not allow, or Congress has not approved?" Capt. Nathan Michael Smith wrote. "To honor my oath, I am asking the court to tell the president that he must get proper authority from Congress, under the War Powers Resolution, to wage the war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria."

President Obama has sought an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) from Congress. But Congress has been hesitant to take it up, with Republicans worried it would be too restrictive and some Democrats worried it wouldn't be restrictive enough.

In the absence of a new AUMF, Obama has said he has the authority to fight ISIS from the 2001 AUMF that authorized going after al Qaeda, from which ISIS originated.

The administration has also cited the 2002 AUMF that authorized the war in Iraq.

The issue arose anew in the past few weeks after Obama and the Pentagon announced the deployment of another 217 troops to Iraq and 250 to Syria.

The lawsuit also comes the day after the third combat death of U.S. service member in the fight against ISIS, which against stoked the issue of a lack of an AUMF.

"Praying for the family of the Navy SEAL tragically killed in Iraq. Our troops are in harms way yet Congress lacks courage to debate this war," Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) tweeted Tuesday. Lee was Congress's one dissenter against the 2001 AUMF and has long called for Congress to debate a new use of force measure.

The lawsuit hinges on the War Powers Resolution, a Vietnam War-era law that says the president must get a war declaration or AUMF from Congress within 60 days of deploying troops or else withdraw within another 30 days.

"The President did not get Congress's approval for his war against ISIS in Iraq or Syria within the sixty days, but he also did not terminate the war," the suit says. "The war is therefore illegal."

The suit also says the 2001 AUMF does not apply because it authorized war against those who carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, which ISIS did not.

The 2002 authorization does not apply, the suit adds, because the war that it authorized has been declared over and because it does not cover Syria.

"In waging war against ISIS," the suit says, "President Obama is misusing limited congressional authorizations for the use of military force as a blank check to conduct a war against enemies of his own choosing, without geographical or temporal boundaries."
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