Obama, Congress sued over Iran deal

Obama, Congress sued over Iran deal
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Conservative legal activist Larry Klayman is suing President Obama and members of Congress over a deal on Iran’s nuclear program that he claims flies in the face of the Constitution.

The lawsuit, Klayman says, aims to block both the treaty and the “unconstitutional” law that Congress passed to guarantee a review of the multinational nuclear accord.

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The White House and Congress “gave away, abrogated and undermined [Klayman’s] constitutional rights, putting him in danger, including the protections inherent in the Constitution requiring a two-thirds vote to ratify a treaty,” he said in the lawsuit. 

Under the Constitution, two-thirds of the Senate needs to approve any international treaty signed by the president.

But there will be no such vote on the Iran deal, which sets restrictions on the country's nuclear activity over the next decade in exchange for the rolling back of sanctions on its oil and financial sectors. 

The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA), which lawmakers passed earlier this year to give them oversight of the deal, violates the Constitution “by changing the method and radically altering the requirements by which treaties are ratified, who ratifies treaties, and the voting requirements to do so,” Klayman alleges in his lawsuit.

“As a result, INARA is unconstitutional, invalid, and void,” he added.

The constitutional argument has become popular among some conservatives, who feel that Congress sold them out by passing the Iran review bill, which allows lawmakers to pass a resolution for or against the deal, or to do nothing.

However, the definition of a treaty is tricky, and presidents have tended to have the power to declare whether an agreement is a formal treaty or not. Lawmakers have insisted that the passage of the Iran review bill actually gave them leverage in the White House’s negotiations.

In addition to Obama, Klayman — a Florida resident — also names Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.) in the lawsuit.

Rubio, a 2016 contender and critic of the Iran deal, said Thursday that Obama's successor could unilaterally kill the agreement.

Klayman has a long history of aggressively filing lawsuits, which have occasionally become a thorn in the side of political officials.

For instance, a lawsuit of his against the National Security Agency succeeded in having a top federal court declare a controversial spying program illegal earlier this year.