June 24th, 2014
07:52 PM ET
2 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. Michael

    sour grapes thats all. move on nothing more to see here

    June 25, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  2. ElleT

    Amazing- no one was outraged over the nearly 300 executive orders issued by George W. Bush, the 350+ by Clinton or the 150+ by George HW Bush. Truly- this is a ridiculous case of sour grapes.

    If you all can't figure out a way to play nicely together than this seems to be what happens. The President has this power, live with it.

    June 25, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  3. ironman59

    I think we should sue the gop members of the house for failing to do their jobs. That is where the failure in leadership has occurred.

    June 25, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  4. Marc M

    Geez...seems to me the Legislative Branch has been responsible for its own erosion of power in recent years as a result of their polarity and ineptness?

    June 25, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  5. Dave

    President Obama has issued 175 Executive Orders. I can only assume that Speaker Boehner thinks the President should be more like President Ronald Reagan and issue 200 more.

    June 25, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  6. samuelrkaplan

    If the Speaker genuinely believes that the President has failed to faithfully execute the laws, then the remedy is not a court suit but impeachment proceedings. That is precisely the purpose of the impeachment provision. That he would go to court and ask the third branch to say something similar–or not–to the legislative branch is simply political grandstanding in an election year. I do not believe he has a case, but impeachment proceedings would be better than having GOP-appointed judges agree with him in a Gore v Bush partisan remake.

    June 25, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  7. Spikemanlou

    Like I said yesterday and will continue to say, this is the most hosed up Congress and party that I have ever seen, Boehner and his cronies are a joke, unfortunately there are too many nut jobs in this country to understand that this party (Republicans) are here on earth to support only one group, the well off, whether it be individuals, corporations, banks or Wall Street, until Joe American Citizen pulls his head out of his backside and realizes that his party only cares about his company and not him personally the country will continue to head into the crapper.

    June 25, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  8. Katya

    Will the lawsuit be retroactive? The executive order has been used exhaustively by past presidents when Congress wouldn't budge on public matters.

    June 25, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Boehner represents the state of Republicans: Chihuahua's in a Pit Bull world. Their bark and bite hurts no one.

    June 25, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  10. patNY

    Ironic it's a Republican seeking to limit the authority of the Presidency, when typically they have taken the opposite position during Republican Presidential Administrations. AND the ultimate irony is that if Boehner wins, then it will apply to any future president, Democrat or Republican! I swear, Canada is looking better and better every day.

    June 25, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  11. Paddy

    Do republicans even care that Bush used 50 more executive orders than Obama did his first term?
    At Obama's current pace, Bush will have used 120 more in his second.

    June 25, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  12. The REAL Truth...

    The desperation displayed by the GOP and it's drones in their constant attacks on the POTUS has become juvenile and sad. With more illegals deported, fewer exec orders issued than his predecessor, a "Benghazi" incident that both sides already KNOW was a CIA op (but the GOP can leverage their drones lack of knowledge and get them riled up over it), the ACA program that is shown to be working (yet they've tried to repeal their plan 50+ time) with 27 new companies signing up and rates expect to remain FLAT in TWO states for 2015, what we have is a squeaker trying to stay relevant and keep the rabble fired up. If it wasn't so deplorably sad, it would be hilarious.

    June 25, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  13. Randy

    Yeah right. I don't believe a damn thing he or any other politician of either party says.

    June 25, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  14. Name

    Oh brother....suing the president. ..smh

    June 25, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  15. Rick Robeson

    How ironic! Boehner is issuing an executive order to sue the president about executive orders. Hmm, Mr. Boehner have you consulted congress on your plan? Was there a vote? Who is paying for this lawsuit?

    June 25, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  16. Rick

    When the government doesn't follow the law then there IS no law.

    June 25, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  17. SteveInMN

    "You mean....if I don't do something Boehn-headed - like sue The President - I'll have to do something PRODUCTIVE?!?!?!?"

    June 25, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  18. Abbey

    About time....this Obama is a joke.

    June 25, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  19. furianxo

    It's amazing that even liberals are this blinded. Republican, Democrat, what ever.... if you lie, you pay the price, if you break the law, you pay the price, if you abuse your power, you pay the price.... and there is NO ARGUING that this administration has done all of that, and if not done outright blatantly (which is apparent in some of these scandals), it at least deserves an thorough investigation. PERIOD.

    June 25, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  20. Theresa

    Why isn't Boehner that upset about the NSA? They are breaking the Consittution everyday!

    June 25, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  21. Bill, NY

    Does this mean that we can sue Congress for not doing the people's business while taking in a hefty salary and platinum benefits?

    June 25, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  22. Fact is

    Regardless of the "why"...the President has broken the laws and violated the constitution.

    It is specifically NOT for one man to decide that is exactly where the abuse of power comes from.

    June 25, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  23. Roland

    So, are they putting differences aside, as the saying goes? Are they truly as much at odds with each other as the media portrays? Or is Washington, DC all just a big horse & pony show?

    June 25, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  24. emskadittle

    thats all they do, political stunts like this. Has the republican house passed anything worth a damn?

    June 25, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  25. Government Waste Rules

    How about putting in effort to secure our borders instead?

    June 25, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
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