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. Geo Bruno

    He has signed slightly fewer orders than President George W. Bush during this point in his first term, according to the University of California, Santa Barbara, which tracks executive orders. Obama has issued 139 executive orders as of Sept. 25. (The U.C. website listed 138 orders on Sept. 25, the same day Obama signed order 139). Bush issued 160 executive orders through Sept. 20, 2004, a comparable amount of time.

    June 25, 2014 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  2. Dee G

    Oh, good luck with that, orange man.

    June 25, 2014 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    Yes! Just what we need. An exercise in futlility. Excuse worst Speaker of the House ever, maybe if you legislated the President wouldn't have to pass executive ordersl.

    June 25, 2014 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  4. rafterman11

    GOP translation.

    WAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 25, 2014 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  5. Larry38363

    What the President is ignoring is the obstructionism and domestic terrorism of the Republican Party. Keep putting these people in and we'll all be in a real mess in 2016!

    June 25, 2014 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  6. Anonymous

    How many executive authority actions did W Bush exercise? The Cons are not giving up. Now they want to sue our president for being black while in office.

    June 25, 2014 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  7. johnk

    Instead of suing why not have a face to face private talk with Obama, Mr Boehner. Tell the president, in very clear terms why you believe the President is exceeding his executive orders and what may come of it if he insists not to consult with the Congress. Also tell certain members of the House not to drag their feet but make decisions in a timely fashion. See if anything substantive comes from your talk.

    June 25, 2014 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  8. sombo

    Being sued by a Do-Nothing pathetic congress.

    June 25, 2014 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  9. sameeker

    The republicans are the ones who want to make it illegal for common people to sue when they are done wrong by corporations and and such; however, they and their corporations are the ones who always file lawsuits. Such hypocrisy.

    June 25, 2014 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  10. Regular Reader

    I believe the executive orders would be found illegal. They are not meant to be used for large, wide sweeping legislative measures. That is what Congress is for.

    June 25, 2014 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  11. 40acres

    >>>.... Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group made up of House Republicans<<<

    What does this even mean? Good luck finding bipartisan Republicans (or Democrats) in this Congress.

    June 25, 2014 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  12. I

    I hope this time obama will be out for good

    June 25, 2014 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  13. Bill D

    Not sure where Boehner is going here, Bill Clinton had 364 executive orders, GWB had 291, and as of Jan. 2014 Obama has had 168. The master of executive orders was FDR with 3,522.

    June 25, 2014 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  14. lionhart

    So let me get this straight. The President ran and got elected on an agenda. The soar loser republicans didn't like it and will not work with the president at all. So when the president pushes through the agenda the American people approved by electing him the republicans want to sue? It's about time the republicans do the work of the American people and not special interests!!!

    June 25, 2014 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  15. shaun

    Clearly, the GOP do not belong in a Democratic country and they must be phased out from our government. The country stood behind George Bush despite the hell that man and his band of criminals generated. As a democratic society a lawfully elected President must be allowed to govern, this is not what has happened in the last 6 years. The Republicans have shown their ugly colors and they don't suit a modern and progressive USA.

    June 25, 2014 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  16. The Griot

    Seeing as how the President was a professor of Constitutional law, I'm sure he knows the Constitution better than probably everyone in Congress. Most of these congressmen are in DC on a field trip and many don't even attend sessions regularly, like they were elected to do. They have a lot of nerve telling the President about the Constitution.

    June 25, 2014 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  17. Farrok

    Why don't these politicians start cooperating and help America for a change. They all golf, drink and talk clap trap while America disintegrates and the infrastructure collapses. They also dither while American Veterans are killed at the VA so some slimy executive can skim a bonus. The whole mess is enough to make you vomit.

    June 25, 2014 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  18. Realist

    " one avenue he could take is to convene a Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group made up of House Republicans "

    Ummm, what?

    June 25, 2014 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  19. lionhart

    So let me get this straight. The President ran and got elected on an agenda. The sore loser republicans didn't like it and will not work with the president at all. So when the president pushes through the agenda the American people approved by electing him the republicans want to sue? It's about time the republicans do the work of the American people and not special interests!!!

    June 25, 2014 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  20. timelord7202

    Where was he when predecessors had put in as many as they had? Obama's put in 140... and has a LONG way to go before catching up with Bush. So if Boehner is upset with Obama, it's strange he's not thinking of others who used far more executive orders...

    June 25, 2014 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  21. marek

    that guy get a boehner against ANYTHING that is anti-obama.

    June 25, 2014 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  22. twininmn

    Suing – HOW about you get sued for NOT doing your job the last 8 years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 25, 2014 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  23. Independant Voter

    Seriously!!. GOP needs to start governing and stop these constant attacks to deny our President anything that can resemble a success. Is this what are government has spiraled down to. One party's mission is only to BLOCK everything. This is not governing, this is the opposite of governing.

    This is what happens when a minority has more money than the majority in a Democracy. They believe they are ENTITLED. When that fails they revert to planting seeds of fascism. Voter Intimidation, Voter ID laws, Gerrymandering, and an all out assault to block anything the majority want. Use Fox News as a propaganda machine to label anyone who opposes as a non-patriot and even a traitor. Even if that person is the President himself, label him a traitor.

    Really, when they start calling our elected President as a traitor, then you know they truly DO NOT WANT A DEMOCRACY.

    June 25, 2014 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  24. Brian

    I don't care about Obama specifically, but I am glad someone is going up against executive orders in general. I don't see anywhere in the Constitution that says the President can create executive orders.

    June 25, 2014 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  25. hwatt

    "if you're racist and you know it sue the prez" *clap clap*...

    June 25, 2014 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
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