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Conyers v. Reagan

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Synopsis

Conyers v. Reagan is a case that challenged the U.S. invasion of Grenada.

Description

In October 1983, President Ronald Reagan announced that he had ordered a pre-dawn invasion of Grenada by nearly 1,900 Marines and armed airborne troops under the code name “Urgent Fury.” The fighting was heavier than expected and by the end of the month, the United States military presence had reached more than 5,600 troops. After a few days of heavy fighting and a number of deaths, the shooting ended.

The invasion and occupation constituted, within the meaning of the War Powers Clause of the U.S. Constitution, a war against the people of Grenada. The President, however, at no time sought the required congressional approval. He justified the invasion by claiming falsely that the lives of U.S. medical students were in danger. The same pretext was given to justify the U.S. invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965.

Within a few weeks of the invasion, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the National Conference of Black Lawyers, the National Lawyers Guild and the ACLU filed suit on behalf of Congressman John Conyers and 10 other members of Congress, challenging the invasion as a violation of the War Powers Clause. The suit requested a judgment that the invasion had taken place in violation of the U.S. Constitution and that all U.S. forces should therefore leave Grenada. The government moved to dismiss the case, arguing that members of Congress are not permitted to bring such suits as they have adequate remedies within Congress. The government also argued that the case was moot because there were only 300 U.S. troops remaining in Grenada.

The court granted the government’s motion to dismiss on the ground that the congressional plaintiffs had other remedies. The plaintiffs appealed and the federal appeals court ruled that the case was moot since most U.S. troops had been withdrawn from Grenada.