In a letter sent to the House of Representatives today, the American Civil Liberties Union asked representatives to cosponsor and vote for H.R. 1212, a bill that would reaffirm Congress’ constitutional authority to decide whether President Obama may use military force in Libya. The Restoring Essential Constitutional Constraints for Libyan Action Involving the Military Act (RECLAIM Act) was introduced by Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Timothy Johnson (R-IL).

The letter, requesting support of the RECLAIM Act, is a follow-up to one sent by the ACLU to Congress last week asking both chambers to debate and vote on the issue of whether the president could continue to use military force in Libya. While the ACLU does not take a position on whether military force should be used, the organization has consistently insisted, from the war in Vietnam through both wars in Iraq, that Congress give advance authorization for the use of such force.

The letter, signed by Washington Legislative Office Director Laura W. Murphy and Senior Legislative Counsel Christopher E. Anders, states, “Delay in taking up this fundamental question of whether the President may continue to use military force in Libya would mark an abdication by Congress of the war powers reserved for the Congress under Article I of the Constitution. The failure of Congress to act would strike at the very heart of the fundamental principle of separation of powers that is at the core of the Constitution and is the undergirding of our democratic form of government.”

The letter concludes, “We urge you to cosponsor the RECLAIM Act, H.R. 1212, and urge prompt committee and floor consideration of the bill, in order for Congress to reassert the most important power that the Constitution assigns to it.”

Read the press release. Read the full text of the letter.