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Restraining order against Bush denied

ANDREW WOLFE / Nashua Telegraph | September 22 2006

CONCORD – A federal judge on Wednesday denied a former Republican congressional candidate’s request for a restraining order barring President Bush or Vice President Richard Cheney from bombing Iran or Syria.

Mary Maxwell, 59, of 179 Loudon Road, Apt. 10, Concord, filed a lawsuit Monday against Bush, Cheney and other “unnamed defendants actively engaging in acts of war against Iran and Syria in the guise of the war against terrorism.”

Maxwell’s suit seeks a ruling that the administration lacks legal authority to pre-emptively attack either Iran or Syria without a Congressional declaration of war, and that radioactive fallout from the use of nuclear weapons in any such attack would endanger people around the world, including herself.

Maxwell was one of two candidates who unsuccessfully challenged six-term Republican incumbent Congressman Charles Bass in the primary election last week.

Maxwell argues that the Bush administration has claimed broad executive war powers by declaring a “war on terrorism,” and that Congress has shown a disinclination to challenge that authority.

Her suit cites media reports from various sources, citing Pentagon plans for pre-emptive nuclear strike on Iran, and also reporting on the limited extent of Congressional opposition to the Bush administration’s war powers.

Maxwell argues that the Constitution gives Congress the exclusive authority to declare war. Thus, she argues, Congress must debate and approve or deny the administration’s reported plans for pre-emptive nuclear strikes against hostile nations alleged to be developing nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction.

“It’s so stunning for Congress to give away its prerogative, and it’s not allowed to do that,” Maxwell said Wednesday, reached by phone at her home. “My complaint as a citizen is that Congress only too willingly is saying, ‘Yeah, we don’t care if he bothers to ask us . . . He can do what he likes.’ ”

While the Bush administration has yet to respond to Maxwell’s suit, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Barbadoro on Wednesday denied her request for an emergency temporary restraining order barring the administration from attacking Iran or Syria.

“The Motion for Temporary Restraining Order asserts only conclusory arguments. It does not satisfy the plaintiff’s duty to demonstrate likelihood of success. Nor does it demonstrate that temporary relief is required to avoid the harm she seeks to prevent,” Barbadoro wrote.

Maxwell plans to appeal Barbadoro’s ruling, she said Wednesday, and she vowed to appeal her suit to the U.S. Supreme Court if she isn’t successful in the lower courts.

There have been similar, previous cases in which people challenged presidential authority in the first Gulf War and before the Iraq war, but courts rejected them because Congress itself wasn’t calling any Constitutional fouls, Maxwell said.

Maxwell said she hopes to avert such a ruling by bringing suit to avoid personal injury from radioactive fallout.

“Unless I personally can show harm, I don’t have standing to bring the case,” she said.


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