Authorizing Legal Council Representation

By:  Mitch McConnell
Date: May 20, 2003
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. MCCONNELL. Mr. President, these resolutions concern pro se civil actions commenced in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California by the same plaintiff. The first resolution concerns a suit that the plaintiff has brought against seventy-seven Members of the Senate claiming that their votes approving the joint resolution authorizing the use of military force against Iraq violated the law. Included among the 77 defendants plaintiff has sued are the new Members who were not even in the Senate at the time of the vote on the resolution authorizing the use of force.

This suit is without merit as the court has no jurisdiction over the matter and the Speech or Debate Clause bars suits against legislators for the performance of their legislative duties under the Constitution. There is simply no legal basis for suing Senators for their role in authorizing the use of military force against Iraq. While a Senator's vote on whether to authorize the use of military force by the President is an appropriate subject for political debate, it cannot be the basis for filing a lawsuit against the Senator in court.

The second resolution concerns a lawsuit filed by the same plaintiff against Senator FRIST for allegedly failing to schedule for consideration by the Senate the repeal of provisions enacted as part of the Homeland Security Act of 2002. This suit is also without any merit as the court has no jurisdiction over the matter and the suit is barred by the Speech or Debate Clause. Senator FRIST's decisions on the agenda and schedule for the legislative business of this body do not present a justiciable issue for the courts.

These resolutions authorize the Senate Legal Counsel to represent the Senate defendants in these two actions.