June 24th, 2014
07:52 PM ET
4 months ago

Boehner plans lawsuit against Obama over executive orders

Updated 3:15 p.m. ET, 6/25/14

Washington (CNN) – House Speaker John Boehner Wednesday told reporters that he plans to sue President Barack Obama over his use of executive action.

"I am," the Speaker said when asked if he was planning to initiate a lawsuit.

"You know the constitution makes it clear that the president’s job is to faithfully execute the laws and in my view the President has not faithfully executed the laws," Boehner added at a news conference on Capitol Hill.

Boehner announced later Wednesday that in July he would bring a bill to the House floor authorizing a Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group to file the lawsuit against the President. He last convened the group in 2011 when the White House said it would no longer defend the anti same-sex marriage law, the Defense of Marriage Act.

The group is made up of the top three House GOP leaders and the top two Democratic leaders.

In a memo to House members announcing next month's vote, Boehner indicated the legal action would cover a number of issues but did not cite specific cases of executive overreach.

"On matters ranging from health care and energy to foreign policy and education, President Obama has repeatedly run an end-around on the American people and their elected legislators, straining the boundaries of the solemn oath he took on Inauguration Day,' the memo said.

The Speaker denied that the move was about energizing Republicans ahead the midterm elections.

"This is about defending the institution in which we serve. If you look back over the past 235 years of our history there's been movement between the inherent powers of the executive branch vs the inherent powers of the legislative branch and what we've seen clearly over the past 5 years is an effort to erode the power of the legislative branch," the Speaker said in response to a question from CNN.

Republicans argue that the President is breaching his constitutional power by side-stepping the legislative process. Obama has used executive actions as a way to bypass a deeply divided Congress, avoiding inaction on issues the White House has made hallmarks of the President's second term agenda.

So far, the Republican-controlled House has passed two bills aimed at curbing executive orders by the President, neither of which have gone anywhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The White House responded Wednesday to Boehner's plans to bring a lawsuit against the President, pointing the blame at the GOP for uncompromising opposition to Obama's policies.

"For a long time we have seen Republicans block progress in Congress, a range of bills that would promote economic strength but in this case it seems that Republicans have shifted their opposition into a higher gear," spokesman Josh Earnest said at the White House press briefing.

"Frankly, it's a gear I didn't know previously existed.'

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi Wednesday called the lawsuit "a subterfuge" and said Republicans in Congress are "doing nothing" and "they have to give some aura of activity."

Pelosi said the House GOP effort to challenge the Defense of Marriage Act in court wasted $2.3 million in taxpayer money, and said "here we go again."

Obama has used his executive authority to push through a number of issues. Most recently, he directed the Department of Labor to extend family leave to same-sex couples. Previously, he raised the minimum wage for federal contractors and halt deportations for many children in the United States illegally.

Rank and file House Republicans have been pushing for months for top GOP leaders to file a lawsuit.

Conservative Republicans have long complained that the President has overstepped his authority – citing the series of changes that the Obama has made on his own to tweak the implementation of Obamacare.

Congressional Republicans, fueled by anger from their grassroots supporters, also argued it was time to explore legal action when the President began saying in January that he had a “pen and a phone” and would take action on key priorities if Congress failed to move legislation.

One avenue Boehner could take is to convene a Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group - something he did in 2011 when the White House said it would no longer defend the anti same-sex marriage law, the Defense of Marriage Act.

Since there is only a day and a half left before Congress heads out for a week long recess, the lawsuit is not expected to be filed until next month. The lawmakers who make up the group – the top three House GOP leaders and the top two Democratic leaders – will have to meet and vote – and – that isn’t expected to happen until after Congress gets back from 4th of July break.

Boehner just so happened to be with the President on Tuesday, along with Vice President Joe Biden, at the White House to meet with members of the 2013 U.S. and International Presidents Cup teams. And the mood didn't seem to be too tense between the House leader and the commander-in-chief, given reports of Boehner's possible lawsuit.

Obama joked: "I'm joined by two of my favorite golf partners, the Vice President of the United States Joe Biden and Speaker of the House John Boehner."

Commissioner Tim Finchem jokingly said that he's been keeping track of who criticizes the President about his golf game, and Boehner was not among his critics.

"The only thing that he doesn't criticize me about," the President added, to laughs.

CNN's Dana Davidsen contributed to this report.

soundoff (838 Responses)
  1. greg

    BOehner should be tared and federed and throw out of office on a rail like we used to do you big cry baby

    June 25, 2014 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  2. jdinblankets

    Another ewaste of taxpayers dollars. These hypocrites would not extend unemployment without paying for it with tax cuts will waste our money on a frivolous law suit whose only purpose is to have red meat in front of their base during the election, afte IRS and Benghazi fade away. Pathetic.

    June 25, 2014 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  3. dnokc

    I wonder if the tape has been lost already about the presidents phone & pen.

    June 25, 2014 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  4. NightWisp

    Yup. Beaner is thinking about thinking about it. This IS breaking news.

    June 25, 2014 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  5. my10cents

    Boehner is the latest GOP example of a "dead man walking". John, threatening to take your ball and go home doesn't work when you never want to play the game anyways. In this case the results are usually predictable, you and your ball become irrelevant.

    June 25, 2014 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  6. Bruce33315

    We could vote to recall Speaker Boehner this year if enough voters decide to turn the House majority party out to pasture.
    That loss would take Boehner completely out of leadership in his own party.

    June 25, 2014 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  7. MaryM

    More garbage coming out the Republicans mouths. Surprise, Surprise

    June 25, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  8. Duke1980

    All this division could be resolved by allowing an UP/DOWN vote. Since when is it required, that in order to become law, a bill needs to have a majority of the majority. This makes no sense. They are denying me my voice, just as Obama is denying the legislative voice. So, can I sue the Speaker?

    June 25, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  9. GOP FAIL

    I enjoy knowing that the GOP will lose in 2016 as they continue to cater to voyeuristic extremist religious-righters that want to snoop into the bedrooms of consenting adults. They also want the fields of our nations farmers to go fallow as they rot as they round up pickers from other nations and tear their families apart. Sound familiar?

    June 25, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  10. lt_murgen

    When your side does it, it is just bypassing those obstructionists in the other party and "doing what the people want".
    When the other side does it, it is "exceeding the authority and seizing power like a dictatorship."
    It cuts both ways. Put a democratic- run house and a republican president issuing executive orders, and you get the same arguments.

    The truth is that the system is designed NOT to do much. The founders were fearful of federal power, and wanted limted action only after great deliberation. Checks and balances, limts and responsibilities, are critical to the system and need to be preserved. If an executive order can grant same-sex benefits to federal workers without consent of congress, then an executive order could remove those benefits just as easily.

    June 25, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  11. Dave

    The past 5 Presidents, ranked by number of Executive Orders issued:
    Ronald Reagan- 381
    Bill Clinton- 364
    George W. Bush- 291
    Barack Obama- 175 (as of March 2014)
    George H.W. Bush 166 (Only one-term, mind you)

    June 25, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  12. NightWisp

    Yup. Beaner is thinking about Thinking about it. This is Breaking news. Best interrupt previous programing in case he comes to a decision this century.

    June 25, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  13. Malory Archer

    Lavender_Lady1
    "Conservative Republicans have long complained that the President has overstepped his authority...."

    Correction: Many Americans have long complained that the President has overstepped his authority.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Yeah, and they're all republicans who admit it, or republicans who are too embarrassed to admit it and and call themselves "libertarians" or "independents" but who ALWAYS vote for the repug candidate.

    June 25, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  14. duane - st.pete FL

    liberals put their ideology above the constitution.....and they don’t even try to hide it......sad really

    June 25, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  15. Clyde Ricks

    I sincerely hope he does sue – and that the result will be that ALL members of the White House AND Congress are ejected from their positions of power. It is LONG past the time for everyday Americans to be in positions of power – not the elite and special interest people.

    June 25, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  16. GH

    I wonder if Obama can sue the Republican Congress for being obstructionist. Had they not been so - mostly simply because they don't like him - perhaps we wouldn't have gotten to this ridiculous point.

    June 25, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  17. Sharon Richardson

    Oh lord, another frivolous lawsuit that will waste taxpayer dollars! Of course, in our democracy, anyone can sue anyone (whether the case has merit, or the parties have any legal standing). But to act as if President Obama is the first to use executive orders is REALLY too much. When President G.W. Bush invaded Iraq, he used exeutive order. Did any Democratic members of Congress jump up and announce lawsuits? When President J.F. Kennedy placed troops in Vietnam (remember, it was never declared war by Congress) did anyone threaten a lawsuit? This kind of ridiculous political posturing should not get any serious air time (or column inches) unless it's put in context.

    June 25, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  18. jfp

    Knock yourself out, John. As long as you use your own money and do it outside your regular working hours. Stop wasting our time and money being an obstructionist with no vision, no plan, and no leadership.

    June 25, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  19. Peter

    Political showboating at its worst by Boehner.

    Executive orders? Let's look at the record:

    Dwight D. Eisenhower 484
    John F. Kennedy 214
    Lyndon B. Johnson 325
    Richard Nixon 346
    Gerald R. Ford 169
    Jimmy Carter 320
    Ronald Reagan 381
    George H.W. Bush 166
    Bill Clinton 364
    George W. Bush 291
    Barack Obama (as of 2014-03-20) 175

    June 25, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  20. Malory Archer

    Buckeye Pilot
    Funny how the lib's don't care about the laws as long as there chosen one is the one breaking them. Typical Lib's ...rules are only for others, because they know better how we should all live. Yea this is the most transparent admin. in history.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    So, what "rules" is he breaking?

    June 25, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  21. annie

    The comments here surprise me. Here we have a President who has a degree in Constitutional Law, and should know better. Boehner is just expecting this President to respect the legislative process. Why shouldn't the President be expected to follow the proper process?

    June 25, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  22. Mario

    So because Obama is doing his job and getting things done, Boehner is going to throw another tantrum because he can't have his way. Boehner is responsible for the most useless, worthless, corrupt congress in the history of this country and yet he still expects the president to beg for his approval on everything.

    June 25, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  23. GOP FAIL

    Why does Dick Cheney have a permanent sneer on his face?

    June 25, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  24. mstipton

    I'm so glad I left the GOP years ago.

    June 25, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  25. Dan

    Its funny how Speaker Boehner calls out the President for a clear record of ignoring the American people's elected representatives. How bout he talk about the members of Congress ignoring the American People and the Republican Party blocking anything the President tries to do by using all sorts of tricks like not going on recess. The Republics should stop listening to their corporate overlords and listen to the American people.

    June 25, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
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