June 24th, 2014
07:52 PM ET
8 years 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.

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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. Malory Archer

    It is not the number of executive orders. It is that Obama is using executive orders to bypass Congress to make policy.


    Yeah, like EVERY OTHER president before him. But of course it's only a problem when "this president" does it.

    June 25, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  2. ART

    It seems that Electorate elite is even dumber than Boehner, maybe he wanted to use illiterate elite as his moniker.

    June 25, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  3. sunflower2

    Everyone should sue Obama and the current administration... They have heaped SO MUCH pain and struggle on SO MANY people... Isn't it obvious that it's on purpose? We're going down in flames and everyone is burying their heads in the sand....

    June 25, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  4. stewart

    well when you preside over a do nothing house what did you expect. hey bonehead do something other than sit on your butt all day.

    June 25, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  5. Betsey Ann

    Does Mr. Boehner realize how ridiculous this sounds? Congress is so ineffective and inept that they can't do their job? And he wants to SUE?

    June 25, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  6. CrashMan

    Can the US sue Boehner for wasting billions in taxpayer dollars on 50 anti-Obamacare votes, a government shutdown, and taking a salary for years without actually doing anything?

    June 25, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  7. Michele

    I'm guessing Boehner's memory has failed yet again..He's completely forgotten the 8 years BEFORE the black man was elected. Must be viral or something........nearly the ENTIRE Republican Party has the same infection. TPers seem especially vulnerable to the most vicious strain.

    June 25, 2014 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  8. Kings on the back row......

    ..Get THIS, John Boy....you have had to deal with the tea party.....we understand your wanting to hit SOMEBODY !

    June 25, 2014 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  9. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Rudy NYC says:
    June 25, 2014 10:23 am at 10:23 am
    These are the facts. The guy is out of control

    NUMBER OF EXECUTIVE ORDERS ISSUED by U.S. Presidents in the last 100 years:
    This is one of those threads that make me want to shout, “Jerk Alert!”

    The saddest thing is Rudy, there are those that will believe every word. Preconceived notions are very dangerous. And some in this country had preconceived notions about this POTUS before he even won the democratic primary.

    June 25, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  10. arshagarbon

    Clearly Dem's are too ignorant to realize what this lawsuit is about. It's not a monetary lawsuit like you people like to file over hot coffee, this is a lawsuit that would impeach this dictator from office!

    June 25, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  11. lorynx

    @jacknyd – Here are some "TRUE" numbers...

    Teddy Roosevelt = 1,081
    Taft = 724
    Wilson = 1,803
    Harding = 522
    Coolidge = 1,203
    Hoover = 968
    Roosevelt (4 terms) = 3,522
    Truman (2 terms) = 907
    Eisenhower (2 terms) = 484
    JFK (1 term) = 214
    LBJ (1 term) = 325
    Nixon (1+ term) = 346
    Ford (~1 term) = 169
    Carter (1 term) = 320
    Reagan (2 terms) = 381
    Bush Sr. (1 term) = 166
    Clinton (2 terms) = 364
    GWB (2 terms) = 291
    Obama (1+ terms) = 180

    June 25, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  12. Okie

    Ronnie was a RINO!

    Reagan or Bush never would have used an executive order. No way. Never.

    Check you're history dude. EVERY pres. uses executive orders. This is not something that Obama invented. LOL

    June 25, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  13. Joi Gibson

    ALL presidents use executive orders – so why sue this president – hmmmmmm. Congress should be sued for breach of contract – they are getting paid to do work and they are not doing that work.

    June 25, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  14. Malory Archer

    Everyone should sue Obama and the current administration... They have heaped SO MUCH pain and struggle on SO MANY people... Isn't it obvious that it's on purpose? We're going down in flames and everyone is burying their heads in the sand....


    Stop blaming the President for your own failings.

    June 25, 2014 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  15. stevie steve

    Here come the zombies..... so quick to defend their master.....

    June 25, 2014 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  16. mrmew55

    Boner and the rest of the Repugnican clowns continually top themselves in their incompetence and child-like behavior – maybe the American people should sue ALL of them for misuse of government funds (they're supposed to be earning their salaries by actually governing) and then charging them with treason for high crimes and misdemeanors committed against the United States of America!

    June 25, 2014 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  17. radar8

    The following is a list of the number of executive orders by president. Compared by presidential term, Obama issued fewer executive orders than Bush 1 or Bush 2 or Clinton or Reagan. In fact, Obama issued fewer executive orders than any President since William McKinley.... in 1901!!!!
    And Boehner wants to sue Obama? Really?

    John F. Kennedy Total 214
    Lyndon B. Johnson Total 325
    Richard Nixon Total 346 2 terms (almost)
    Gerald R. Ford Total 169
    Jimmy Carter Total 320
    Ronald Reagan Total 381 2 terms
    George Bush Total 166 1 term
    William J. Clinton Total 364 2 terms
    George W. Bush Total 291 2 terms
    Barack Obama Total 168 2 terms

    June 25, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  18. marcor

    The GOP is a solutionless club of old geezers who spend all their efforts politically exploiting human suffering. They do nothing else. They have no ideas. Their sole agenda has always been to undermind Obama at all logical cost at the expense of actually doing something productive. JB never has an idea. Ever.

    June 25, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  19. John

    Republicans will do anything to get out of doing their job which is to pass legislation and not hem and haw over partisan politics

    June 25, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  20. Michelle Smith

    It is clear to see that Boehner is basically wanted to under mind anything this president does and I don't believe it is for any other reason then the fact that he is a man of color. I pray for this country and the people they place in the office, civil war is where this country is headed. Praying for this world!

    June 25, 2014 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  21. radar8

    Those that are angry about executive orders being used to bypass Congress need to understand that Executive Orders are just that..... a bypass of the Congress. It has always been that way. Obama did it less than any President since 1901.
    Boehner is just a big crybaby. He's presiding over the worst-rated Congress in history. His House has used more filibusters (obstruction) than any Congress in history.

    June 25, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  22. columbus

    I expect nothing different from a bunch of lawyers, the longer they can keep things in litigation, the more money they make. In this case the less governing they have to do. There is no place for this to go other than eventually reaching the supreme court, in what, maybe 5 years? The argument is moot.

    June 25, 2014 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  23. Lou

    Laughable! The GOP continues to make fools of themselves.

    June 25, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  24. Fred Evil

    But never a word was said about W's abuses of Executive Orders.
    What's good for the goose AIN'T good for the gander, huh Boehner?

    June 25, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  25. ritmocojo

    Seems like every week, this congress makes the case for Gov. Bobby Jindal's "Party of Stupid" statement.
    Can't wait for the GOtP Clown Car show to start its new tour.

    June 25, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
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