June 24th, 2014
07:52 PM ET
6 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. newscale62

    Someone should sue Boehner for holding the country hostage

    June 25, 2014 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  2. Robert Campbell

    Nancy not only knows the word 'subterfuge' but used it correctly???

    And as a Republican, I agree with her??

    C'mon. Who was behind her statement.

    June 25, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  3. grace

    Republicans in Congress are obstructionist and racist. They are supposed to approve of everything that President Obama wants to do without question.

    June 25, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  4. ninerzzzz

    Bush and Cheney should be sitting in federal prison somewhere!!

    June 25, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  5. Frank

    Really? Let's take a case in point to show how Boehner has bypassed the democratic process: The Senate on April 7 approved an unemployment extension for more than 3.1 million families who's benefits ran out after 26 weeks. It was a bipartisan vote that included 6 Republican Senators who supported the bill. These benefits were meant to be a life line to these struggling families and included military veterans, older displaced workers and parents trying to eke by with the minimal checks that would help keep them afloat while they continued to look for a job. When the Senate bill was sent to the House, Boehner and Cantor refused to allow a vote in the House on the approved bill thereby leaving millions in dire financial straits. Many of these people have lost everything. That is a tragic situation that occurred because of one man: John Boehner.

    June 25, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  6. patNY

    This action by Boehner is unprecedented yet falls under the political/separation of powers doctrine in which the courts will not involve themselves in purely political disputes such as this and will almost certainly dismiss any lawsuit started by Boehner.

    June 25, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  7. Name

    i think to think about impeachment

    June 25, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  8. mrdibs

    This is obviously a false report. Nancy Pelosi has no idea what subterfuge even means.

    June 25, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  9. johnbiggscr

    'Michael – I love the smell of an administration absolutely out of control being held accountable. I know the liberals don't understand the meaning of the word accountable but try to keep up'
    ---------------------------
    Well its confusing you see because by your actions you lot try to convince us it means you hold someone responsible for doing exactly what others have done if they happen to belong to the opposite party to you.

    June 25, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  10. Carol

    The Republicans are suing Obama over something they caused. They have practiced obstructionism for 6 years, forcing Obama to rely on executive orders. They are the ones who should be sued!!!

    June 25, 2014 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  11. Tuza Baap

    It is time to show the GOP their place. These are the bunch of whiners who don't do anything and their main agenda is to not to pass any legislation so that Obama looks incompetent so that they can win all branches of govt. I think the time has come to bypass the congress altogether.

    June 25, 2014 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  12. Todd F

    According the the U.S. Presidency Project, Obama has issued 168 Executive Orders. By comparison, George W. Bush issued 291; Bill Clinton issued 364; George H.W. Bush issued 166 (and he only served 4 years); Ronald Reagan issued 381; Jimmy Carter issued 320 (in four years); Gerald Ford issued 169; Nixon issued 346; Johnson 325; and Kennedy 214.

    So, in the last half century, Obama has issued the least number of Executive Orders per year (on average).

    June 25, 2014 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  13. pbernasc

    Elections tactic ... poor GOP

    June 25, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  14. Greg

    Nothing to see here. Boehner is only concerned about his own political agenda. America needs to wake up and see that Republicans and Democrats cannot get it done. We elected this mess of a Government, now is time to fix it!

    June 25, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  15. Proud Democrat

    It's hard not to use executive power when the republicans are against everything the president ever wanted to do. Minimum wage increase "NO" health care for every American "NO" unemployment benefits "NO". Meals on wheels for the elderly " NO" . The only thing republicans want to do is send our kids to war over oil. This is why they have zero chance of getting the White House back.

    June 25, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  16. Smeagel4T

    Perhaps you'd prefer "signing statements", Boehner?

    June 25, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  17. Logic_Is_Not_Common_Sense

    Hey "Groom with a View"... tell us how you really feel, and don't hold back next time

    June 25, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  18. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Name. willard says:
    June 25, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm
    I should be sue against obama what happened about fraud check scam from afrcian amercian

    What???😨😨

    June 25, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  19. wardenhallis

    Obama has used executive orders less than any other President in modern times, a fact easily verified. So, why the attempt to mislead the public? Are portions of the public REALLY that ignorant and uneducated?

    June 25, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  20. Alan

    I will now post the courteous version in case my uncourteous version was censored.

    Sue for WHAT? Is the claim in the millions, billions, trillions? Does Boehner realize that any damage awards will be paid out of the U.S. Treasury, and deposited back into the U.S. Treasury on behalf of the American people? In winning the suit, we may hear a judge say something like, "I order the U.S. Treasury, on behalf of the President of the United States of America, to pay $10 trillion dollars in damages to the American people. This damage award is to be payable to the U.S. Treasury, and is due and payable immediately."

    Due to Boehner's lawsuit that amounts to America suing itself, however, if the GOP wins, taxpayers will foot the bill of tens of millions of dollars in legal expenses — with the net result being a loss to taxpayers of tens of millions of dollars, in addition to incalculable losses.

    I now disrespect the Republican Party and GOP even more for their disgusting grandstanding in hopes of diverting attention to the fact they are lazy ________ (you fill in the blank) who haven't lifted a finger in years, in exchange for lucrative salaries. These "men" are vile and loathsome creatures. Their salaries amount of Felony grand theft because these criminals (perhaps the first Congressional organized crime gang) are obviously not doing any work, unless you call work endless games of golf at taxpayer expense.

    June 25, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  21. strangways

    how much time, money and energy will the Repulsicans waste on "suing" the president? More than the $30 million they dumped on "investigating" Lewinsky, or the $4 Trillion vaporized on Iraq? VOTE THE REPUBLICANS OUT, puh-leeeze!

    June 25, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  22. sandy

    President W. Bush issued 291 executive orders, so far President Obama 168. So, its okay if a Republican president issues executive orders?

    June 25, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  23. Hans

    He should have sued ted cruz for shutting down the government.,,,, they are all a bunch of nut case

    June 25, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  24. flbikerchick

    The GOP grandstanding has gotten so old. I'm no big fan of Obama, but at least he's made an effort to get something done while in office, whether we agree with it or not. Congress, including Rs and Ds, is completely worthless.

    June 25, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  25. johnbiggscr

    'ecoastdude – Obama is ordering things that hurt the people. Where other presidents were ordering things to enhance the people.'

    Interesting claim, how do you propose to actually quantify that claim in any way?

    'Let's face it here, Obama is failing at everything he touches because of his divisive polices. Divide and conquer. Instead of uniting us he is dividing us to further his political goals. Un-American!'

    Who was it that stated that their main objective was to restrict Obama to a single term the minute he got elected? Who was it that spoke of the 47% of the population being takers unwilling to look after themselves? Give me a fricking break with his being the divisive one.

    June 25, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
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