June 24th, 2014
07:52 PM ET
1 month 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. Boo

    What's Boehner whining about now? Because he and the rest of the Republicans sit on their hands and DO NOTHING, this cretin decides to sue Obama. If it was a white man in the WH, Boehner would do no such thing.

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

    My, the butt-hurt is strong in that one. Obama has used Executive Orders less than most every president in recent memory and would have used that authority even less if Congress could get its act together and pass needed legislation. It is Boehner's obstruction that has forced the issue and now he wants to sue? That is irony right there, ladies and gentlemen.

    June 25, 2014 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  3. Ben

    "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."

    He had to sidestep Congress to pass bills allowing people to live better lives. HOW DARE HE!

    June 25, 2014 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  4. steamtrainsturm

    What a joke. Boehner is a sore loser and completely inept at his job, so he's trying to blame Obama, despite the fact that our current president is well below party averages for both Democrat AND Republican presidents of the past 50 years for executive orders issued.

    June 25, 2014 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  5. Matt

    Sure. As long as he sues W at the same time.

    June 25, 2014 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  6. Zach

    Stop complaining ABOUT the president and DO SOMETHING to help the country. Obama's policies might be wrong in alot of respects, but at least he is trying to DO SOMETHING to improve the country. If you believe its the wrong thing, fine, but if all you do is sit around and complain then you don't get my vote. I vote for the best of two courses of action. If only one person is taking action.... he wins by default.

    June 25, 2014 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  7. JG

    I guess he doesn't realize that Obama still has fewer Executive Orders and the 2nd George Bush and Ronald Reagan. He also had fewer in his first term than the 1st Bush had in his single term. But... why mix in facts?

    June 25, 2014 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  8. Anonymous

    If Boehner does decide to bring a lawsuit against the President, one avenue he could take is to convene a Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group made up of House Republicans –
    Bipartisan= all republicans, somehow it just doesn't mean what it used to.

    June 25, 2014 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  9. Sarah Jane

    Naturally Boehner wants to take the shortcut to thinking rather than addressing the problem through Congress.

    June 25, 2014 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  10. Merle McClung

    Where do the GOP get these things! Oh, I forgot. Since Congress does NOTHING for the country, they have a lot of time on their hands.

    June 25, 2014 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  11. ritmocojo

    Relentless these Repubican losers are.

    June 25, 2014 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  12. Chris

    So,so sad.Here we go again with the childish republican party doing nothing for the people while wasting all their time trying to do anything they can against the president.I know the republicans do not care for the people or their country as they are bought and paid by the big oil and corporations.But you would think at some point they would grow up and take their hillbilly racism and religious ridiculousness and stuff it and work for the people and their country.Unfortunately they wont as long as there is a black president.

    June 25, 2014 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  13. American Veteran

    The obstructionist Speaker of the House – in the congress with the all-time lowest approval ratings ever – cries foul over the President's ONLY means of getting ANYTHING done??

    June 25, 2014 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  14. Mafio Nastra

    Better call Saul!

    June 25, 2014 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  15. David

    Absolutely he should sue if he truly believes the things he says. If he doesn't and it is just posturing well then all we will ever get is talk. Sue now, sue today so we can actually move this to an arena where facts matter instead of the press room.

    June 25, 2014 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  16. Cobra212

    Our government can no longer can represent the desires/will of the people, if the legislative body elected to do so is completely ignored or bypassed. The deadlock in Washington comes from an administration wanting to do things that our elected representatives know the people don't want done. To call it a deadlock, because some of our representatives don't want to turn crime (illegal immigration) into a reward (citizenship), when we have laws in place defining how immigrants can become citizens, is just a play on words to get what politicians want to keep them in power, in spite of the fact most of the people of the nation are against it. To call it a deadlock because some of our elected representatives want our government to show financial responsibility and not run up the national debt, is again a play on words to justify irresponsibility. When a single person, the president, abuses their authority to enact laws and spend money in any manner he pleases, we no longer have a representative government, but rather a dictatorship. In a dictatorship, a single person decides what is best for everyone else and acts unilaterally. That is exactly what Obama is doing. If we want to continue our Democracy and freedoms, we must prevent Obama from turning the President of the U.S. into nothing more than a dictatorship no different from that of North Korea.

    June 25, 2014 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  17. Daremonai

    So.. unlike congress he is actually doing his job, and in a decisive take charge manner that usually the GOP lauds.

    June 25, 2014 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  18. skyking169

    Hmmm.
    Does that mean the Democrats should have sued Bush and Cheney over the profiteering and borrowing for making a war that's main purpose was military/industrial profits that cost thousands of American lives?

    June 25, 2014 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  19. beancounterz

    Why doesn't Boehner charge himself for treason over his handling of the house and convict himself and then put himself in front of a firing squad. We are at War and Boehner's disrespect for the President is second only to his disrespect for the American people and our fighting forces.

    June 25, 2014 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Once again Republicans are striving to find ways to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. How dumb can you become?

    June 25, 2014 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  21. Lynda/Minnesota

    I'm a bit curious ... what HAS congress (and thus John Boehner) accomplished this year for the betterment of America? Because, you know ... that GOPerville grassroots anti-Obama talking point thingy? Its going nowhere fast.

    June 25, 2014 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  22. Biden

    You Biden in that pic is like:

    "Yo JB why do you grow a pair and do something in CONgress so we dont have to use executive orders?"

    June 25, 2014 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  23. Anonymous

    I see the sheep are out in force today.

    June 25, 2014 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  24. David

    Our first elected dictator must go.
    Obama wrote in his book how hwill take America's #1 status down.
    He promised to redistribute our wealth, and Obamacare is doing just that
    We are a far weaker nation in the eyes of the world today.

    June 25, 2014 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  25. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    What happened? Did he reach his limit taking the administration to court over Obamacare?
    Republicans are litigious, petty,sore-losers, and dumb to boot.

    June 25, 2014 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
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