Don't call Sgt. Michael Ange an anti-war activist.

"I am a soldier," he insists, "and I firmly believe in the ideals of a strong defensive military designed to protect the United States and its Constitution."But don't call on him to fight an illegal war.

"The president is violating the U.S. Constitution and other existing laws by committing acts of war which have not been authorized by the Congress," Ange says, calling the recent buildup of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf "unlawful."

And so it is that Ange, a 26-year-old Army National Guardsman attached to the 1450th Transportation Unit at Fort Lee, Va., is suing his government.

His lawyers appeared in federal court Tuesday seeking an emergency court order suspending his deployment to the gulf this week until a full hearing can be held on the constitutional question.

"We're filing a federal lawsuit challenging the president's authority to order Michael Ange to active duty in the Persian Gulf," said Michael Ratner, an attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is representing Ange. "We believe those orders are violations of the War Powers clause of the Constitution and of the War Powers resolution."

A federal judge declined to issue the emergency order, but another hearing on the issue was scheduled for Dec. 10.

The lawsuit comes as support for Operation Desert Shield appears to be crumbling on Capitol Hill and elsewhere in the wake of President Bush's announcement six days ago that he intends to double the size of the U.S. force in the Middle East.

Ange's lawyers say he doesn't fall into the "conscientious objector" category but instead fears Bush is pushing the United States toward a war without consulting his countrymen.

"We believe that this is a historic and critical moment for the American people," Ratner said.