Drinan, et al. v. Ford, et al. Historic Case

At a Glance

Date Filed: 

January 31, 1975

Case Description 

Drinan, et al. v. Ford, et al. was an attempt to get an injunction restraining the members of the executive branch from conducting military operations in Cambodia without congressional authority. The case was dismissed in March 1975.

Beginning with Massachusetts v. Laird in 1971, the First Circuit Court of Appeals demonstrated a greater reluctance than most other courts to dismiss as “political” suits challenging presidential war-making without congressional authority.

On January 31, 1975, attorneys from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), representing 21 members of Congress and one active-duty Marine, moved, in the District of Massachusetts, for an injunction restraining President Gerald Ford and other named members of the executive branch from conducting military and paramilitary operations in Cambodia in violation of the Constitution and specific congressional prohibitions.

On March 25, 1975, Judge Frank Freedman granted the government’s motion to dismiss by refusing to draw a line between the aid voted for Cambodia and the military operations complained of. The First Circuit granted an expedited appeal and, during oral argument, indicated some sympathy for the plaintiffs’ position and little for the government’s.

However, the case was overtaken by events, such as the end of the war in Cambodia, and the appeal was dismissed as moot on May 27, 1975.