(2) resolution of plaintiff's claims would seriously impinge on the powers of the Legislative and Executive branches to establish and carry out foreign policy, as well as provide for national security, we conclude that this lawsuit is not justiciable. As a result, defendants' motion to dismiss this case in its entirety will be granted.
As presently drafted,
the complaint lists twenty-six plaintiffs, to wit, (1) twelve non-resident aliens, citizens of Nicaragua, (2) twelve members of the United States House of Representatives, and (3) two residents of the state of Florida who sue on behalf of that state. The named defendants can similarly be broken down into three groups, namely (1) nine present or former officials of the Executive Branch, including President Ronald Reagan,
(2) three non-federal defendants (one individual and two unincorporated associations located in Florida), and (3) an unspecified number of, as yet, unidentified officers or agents employed by the United States.
The complaint is styled in eight causes of action which, for our purposes, can be grouped together into three broad categories of claims for relief. First, the Nicaraguan plaintiffs seek damages for injuries allegedly caused by U.S.-sponsored terrorist raids against various towns and villages in Nicaragua. They allege that paramilitary activities have been, and continue to be, financed and carried out by the U.S. government, its agents and employees, against the people of Nicaragua, in an attempt to overthrow their national government. Plaintiffs maintain that the U.S.-sponsored raids violate fundamental human rights established under international law and the U.S. Constitution. These plaintiffs also seek an injunction prohibiting further U.S. military involvement in Nicaragua.
The Congressional plaintiffs present a second category of claims. They allege that the activities described above constitute acts of war which have not been authorized by Congress. These plaintiffs claim violations of their authority to declare war under Article I, § 8, cl. 11, of the Constitution, and laws promulgated thereunder, such as the so-called "neutrality laws," 18 U.S.C. §§ 956 et seq., and the War Powers Resolution, 50 U.S.C. §§ 1541-48. In short, they sue to stop an alleged undeclared war waged by the federal defendants against the people and government of Nicaragua. The Congressional plaintiffs also allege a violation of the Boland Amendment to the 1983 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, P.L. 97-337, § 793 (1982), which prohibits the Central Intelligence Agency ("CIA") and the Department of Defense from using any of the funds provided in the Act for military activities aimed at overthrowing the government of Nicaragua. The Congressmen seek declaratory and injunctive relief.
Finally, the Florida plaintiffs seek to enjoin the alleged operation of U.S.-sponsored paramilitary training camps located in Florida, inasmuch as they constitute a nuisance under Florida law. Plaintiffs Eleanor Ginsberg and Larry O'Toole, residents of Dade County, Florida, sue on behalf of the state of Florida, to close those camps.
Plaintiffs rely on 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 (federal question), 1350 (alien tort claims), 1361 (mandamus), 2201 and 2202 (declaratory judgments), and the doctrine of pendent jurisdiction, see United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 16 L. Ed. 2d 218, 86 S. Ct. 1130 (1966), as grounds for establishing subject matter jurisdiction in this Court.
This lawsuit is another cog in the wheel of controversy currently surrounding U.S. government involvement in Central America, particularly in Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. The federal defendants strenuously argue that adjudication of plaintiffs' claims would impermissibly interfere with the constitutional powers of the Executive and Legislative branches of our government to conduct foreign affairs and attend to national security concerns. As a result, they argue, this case presents a non-justiciable political question. We agree.
The political question doctrine insures that the judiciary exhibits appropriate concern for the separation of powers under our tri-parttite system of government. Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137, 165-66, 2 L. Ed. 60 (1803); Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 210, 7 L. Ed. 2d 663, 82 S. Ct. 691 (1962); Laird v. Tatum, 408 U.S. 1, 15, 33 L. Ed. 2d 154, 92 S. Ct. 2318 (1972); see INS v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919, 77 L. Ed. 2d 317, 103 S. Ct. 2764, 51 U.S.L.W. 4907 (1983). To determine whether the resolution of a matter violates separation of powers principles, thereby making it a non-justiciable political question, we must apply the factors outlined by the Supreme Court in Baker:
Prominent on the surface of any case held to involve a political question is found a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate political department; or a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving it; or the impossibility of deciding without an initial policy determination of a kind clearly for nonjudicial discretion; or the impossibility of a court's undertaking independent resolution without expressing lack of the respect due coordinate branches of government; or an unusual need for unquestioning adherence to a political decision already made; or the potentiality of embarrassment from multifarious pronouncements by various departments on one question.