June 24th, 2014
07:52 PM ET
4 weeks 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. misterflibble1

    Executive Orders by President:

    William McKinley – 185
    Theodore Roosevelt – 1,081
    William Howard Taft – 724
    Woodrow Wilson – 1,803
    Warren G. Harding – 522
    Calvin Coolidge – 1,203
    Herbert Hoover – 968
    Franklin D. Roosevelt – 3,522
    Harry S. Truman – 907
    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
    William J. Clinton – 364
    George W. Bush – 291
    Barack Obama – 180

    So it seems to me that in the last 20 administrations, Obama is 3rd from last on issuing Executive Orders.
    Republicans, and the sheep that blindly follow them, are such hypocrites.

    June 25, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  2. Melba Isom

    So, can I sue Boehner for taking my tax money as salary and him not doing one single thing to earn it?

    June 25, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  3. Joeknows

    It's obvious that CFSCOH hasn't understood that on the 1st day of President Obama's first term the republican's sat out to oppose all and anything he did; the House speaker, is filing suit against the Color of his skin Period, All the GOP needs to go somewhere and sing "We shall Overcome"

    June 25, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  4. radar8

    Obama used Executive Order fewer times than any president since McKinley in 1901, yet Boehner can't seem to understand that he can't have his way.

    June 25, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  5. Drew

    Now members of Congress sue Presidents when they unilaterally decide they don't like their policies? I hope Boehner is the next do-nothing out on his ear.

    June 25, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  6. Mark

    2 points:
    1. This smells like an election year stunt. GOP has a genuine chance to take both houses of Congress in November and this looks like a way to rally the votes. Be careful Boehner, these stunts have backfired before and rallied the unintended party.
    2. Dangerous precedent. When the DNC took Congress in 2006, they pulled some stunts as attempts to invalidate President Bush. This stunt ups the ante some. I don't want to see a precedent started where if a party dislikes the President, they pull stunts to make news instead of trying to cooperate and find common ground. The GOP Congress and President Clinton found common ground. How refreshing that would be because the opposing party leaders in Congress and the President haven't tried to find common ground since and I fear future Congresses will pull significantly more impactful stunts than this lawsuit.

    June 25, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  7. Vic

    I wish both parties would do this more when a president gets out of line. Laws are laws, doesn't matter if someone else didn't follow them. I know the first words are going to be, but Bush did the same. I know he did, and no one stood up and challenged it, well someone needed to grow a pair. It's the duty of the opposing party to keep the other side in check. Either you're for law and order or you're not, it's that simple.

    June 25, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  8. Chuck

    A quick look at the number of executive orders as of 1/20/2014 for Obama: 168. For comparison:
    GW Bush: 291, Clinton: 364, George Bush: 166, Regan: 381, Carter: 320, Ford: 169, Nixon: 346, etc. Based on these these numbers, Obama is NOT the most prolific user of the EO but is, in fact, no different than the rest. My analysis, Boehner is wasting our taxpayer dollars pursuing this frivolous case.

    June 25, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  9. Bill

    This is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. Obama isn't even in the top 5 for presidents that have used executive orders, this is all smoke and mirrors to gin up the Republican base and distract America from the fact that this nation is falling apart because John Boehner can't get anything done in the congress he's supposedly in charge of. John Boehner is a giant failure, the Republican party is eating itself from within with all the in-fighting, and meanwhile we Americans are losing taxpayer money to grandstanding and chest-beating from the people who are SUPPOSED to be doing what's best for AMERICA, not for their reelections.

    June 25, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  10. AvidReader07

    By all means, he should go ahead and make an even bigger circus out of an already dysfunctional lame duck legislative branch - not like there is more pressing business needing to be done (or that would actually get done) in the meantime.

    June 25, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  11. fumes

    Too funny! Out come the goopers forgetting the horror of those Bush years. What horror? Saddam Hussein attacked us on 9-11 and we got him back. Uh-huh

    June 25, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  12. heyjoe1

    This is well overdue. I hope we see more of this coming from the Republicans. The Liar in Chief is lawless and it's time to reel his lawlessness in.

    June 25, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  13. zackselzman

    In related news Boehner pledges that he will stomp his feet, scream and wail, while repeating over and over again that when Bush used Executive Privilege it was good because he had his Long Form birth certificate tattooed to his backside and that when Obama uses Executive Privilege it is bad because he does not like Obama.

    June 25, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  14. zandhcats

    Sue your party first, crying baby!

    June 25, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  15. Dan C

    Boehner is a fraud. He is one of the weakest Speakers in one of the most useless congressional sessions in our nation's history. Do some actual work, Mr. Speaker. Do something to benefit the middle class – and not just your rich benefactors. Then get a handle on those in your party who are out to destroy our government from within – and then get back to us about your silly lawsuit.

    June 25, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  16. mountainlady5281

    John Boehner is one of the biggest losers ever to hold the seat of Speaker. Anything he does at this point only makes that fact more clear. Presidents have been using executive authority since George Washington. In this case President Obama figured out that it was the only way to get the business of America done.....since Congress clearly wasn't going to do anything.

    June 25, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  17. Gregory

    More parlor tricks from the republicans. Actually, it's all about red meat for the base and generating voter turnout this fall.

    From day one, the republicans have done everything they could to jam up congress. Obama went to the republican caucus back in 2009. He schooled them on Ryan's budget. Obama knew that budget inside and out, down to the chapters and pages numbers. The smack down was so lopsided that FOX News cut away from their coverage of the unprecedented meeting and went with their in studio analysts blaming Obama for the economic crisis the nation was in at the time.

    The rest of the broadcasters and cable news outlets continued their coverage of the event.

    Obama clearly outshined their brightest.

    June 25, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  18. Pete

    This should work out just as well as shutting down the goverment, looked how good that turned out for them. Jeez, I used to think that the Republicans were only going to be irrevelant for the next twenty years, at this rate they may become extinct..

    June 25, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  19. AmericaNeedsToUnite

    I think everyone is taking this lawsuit too literally and not realizing that this is just Boehner's way of acting like he's doing something to please the GOP. The whole GOP is up in arms about all the shady stuff Obama has been doing with increasing government in our lives by controlling our health care, by-passing congress to release 5 top dog terrorists for 1 deserter that became good enough friends with the terrorists for them to let him play soccer and carry around a gun, the VA scandal that isn't necessarily Obama's fault but lets face it every president in the past has been blamed for crap under their administration as well and since he appointed that guy in charge he's at fault too, and the Lois Lerner IRS stuff that is absolutely ridiculous. What would the IRS do if you told them sorry I lost these important papers for my taxes and they're gone and there's nothing I can do about it? They'd throw you in jail like they need to do w/ all of those IRS officials hiding evidence. Wake up people, I'm not for or against one party or the other being Libertarian but stuff is jacked up in Washington. Put aside your economic or social reasons for being strongly Liberal or strongly Conservative and force a change in your state that can effect our Federal Government. Realize that every media outlet has a side they back and get educated from other networks than just your view points, you might learn something if you open yourself up to it. God Bless America

    June 25, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  20. tbrnotb

    The hypocritical repubs strike again. It's ok for Bush, but not Obama. Check the numbers of executive orders. It's ok for the GOP to stop the government because they refuse to pass any initiative from Obama. And then you all post about how horrible Obama is. Where were you when the repub cabal lied and led us into a war in Iraq leading hundreds of thousand to their deaths. The blood is on every one of your repub puppets hands.

    June 25, 2014 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  21. tinykhan

    YAY!!!! So, millions of dollars wasted, on a verdict that will come years after Obama is even out of office. I can guarantee, that if a Republican president comes in next, the lawsuit to limit a Presidents powers will INSTANTLY be dropped. Really???? This is the best people we can find to govern our country? No wonder we do not rate #1 in any category in the world anymore, except maybe percent of population being obese.

    June 25, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  22. Ed F.

    Talk about a cheap political stunt. The GOP has tried to win elections by the issues. That didn't work. They tried to buy elections via "Citizens United." That didn't work. They tried to have employers threaten their workers to vote GOP. That didn't work. They tried to steal elections via voter suppression laws. That didn't work either. Now this.

    June 25, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  23. gbreeza

    I really don't see the problem. Historically it's Republican presidents who make moves on executive orders. He has to deal with people who don't want anything done. Yet isn't that the issue with refined bureaucracy. Nothing gets done. The executive orders that Obama has done have all had the results he wanted, which is why he did them. I get that the Republicans are pro small government I really do but is that the world we live in now. Every company out there seems to be big global even. In a capitalist economy you may even say that the only way to counter big corporations is big government. Sad but true.

    June 25, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  24. Tychi

    Obama has found a way to get things done by bypassing the do-nothing Congress; and Boehner does not want the President doing good.

    June 25, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  25. mungomunro

    Boehner would not say which executive action the lawsuit would target specifically.?????

    If Republicans think the law is on their side Why all the secrecy?

    June 25, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
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