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. TomVIO

    Somebody should sue Boehner for wasting so much tax payer's money for pointless things such as trying to repeal laws and suing for no real reason.

    Obama did everything by the Constitution, if he wouldn't, he would have already been impeached.

    June 25, 2014 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  2. Lorenza H.

    A simple online search for a list of presidents with the most Excutive Orders will show that Obama is not the president with the most. Obama has 168 now, George W. Bush had 291, Clinton had 364, Reagan had 381, Nixon had 346. Speaker Boehner is pandering to his tea party base by saying he may sue the president because Obama by passes congress to use Excutive Orders. History will show Mr. Boehner to be the worst speaker because he was leader of a congress that did nothing except made the country a worst place to live and tried to harm the economy by shuting down the government.

    June 25, 2014 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  3. yeahright

    Why is it that executive orders and signing statements are only OK when used (and far more frequently) by a Republican

    June 25, 2014 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  4. ron

    Obama has tried to work with the GOP, but they just want want want. The GOP want to say they got something. Show people they are the one's with power. Well GOP, you want to stall everything in Washington and do nothing for the American people EXCEPT the 1% of course.

    filing a law suit is just another childish move that will keep the GOP out of the White House in 2016

    June 25, 2014 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair

    It's not the QUANTITY of executive orders that really matters. It's what's in them.
    What's in them that has you so upset? If the orders were so unconstitutional, why wait until now to "fight" them? How come they weren't contested when they were signed, or put into effect? Hmm?

    Did you know that Bush-43 signed some rather questionable executive orders? He signed one that sent public dollars to privately owned, religion-based elementary schools, which was thrown out in court.

    June 25, 2014 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  6. dan

    I thought Bohner was a tort reform,anti-lawsuit kind of guy. He says tort reform will help with energy production. He doesn't want an equal rights law for gays, because it could increase legal cost to business. He lobbied the EPA to drop a lawsuit against one of his contributors. He thinks that tort reform would solve the high cost of medical care.

    Turns out he's sued people politically before.

    June 25, 2014 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  7. Theotherguy

    Its always interesting to watch people say, "why don't they just work with the president to get stuff done" when the question really should be, "why doesn't the president use his leadership position work with the entirety of congress to get stuff done. Seriously, he is "supposed" to be the leader of this great nation, but the blame ends up falling on congress? I don't think so. Republicans in the house have sent a budget every year, and on schedule, to the senate, but Reid throws it in the trash pile and turns around and say Republicans are obstructing progress. All I can do is laugh so I don't cry. Its pathetic how people are clinging so hard to the idea that what our government is doing right now is working. It clearly is not.

    June 25, 2014 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  8. salty dog

    grass roots supporters, now that's funny, the Koch brothers pay people to protest, and the CNN goes along and calls it grass roots. Its that liberal media again I guess

    June 25, 2014 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  9. Anonymous

    "The President has a clear record of ignoring the American people's elected representatives and exceeding his Constitutional authority, which has dangerous implications for both our system of government and our economy,"

    Funny, I thought Obama was elected as well. And I wonder if Boehner ever noticed that more people voted for Democrats than Republicans in the house, and it's only urban demographics and gerrymandering that keeps them the majority in Congress.

    June 25, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  10. V

    I've read alot of articles and this article reminded me of another one I read. There was an article that showed how many laws and motions has passed through the years and in the past couple of years VERY LITTLE laws are getting passed because it gets to one or the other and they shoot it down. I've seen ALOT of good laws pass through one, only to be shot down by the other for absolutely no good reason. It seems to me that one doesn't wanna get ahead of the other because they want their party to look good and that is IN NO WAY SHAPE OR FORM WHAT IS BEST FOR AMERICA

    June 25, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  11. spudnik56

    The House GOP...what a waste of space...

    June 25, 2014 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  12. Mark

    What legislative process? This coming from an obstructionist.

    June 25, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  13. Dan

    "obama refuses to negotiate."


    Actually, the President has offered to negotiate on several occasions, from health care to student loan debt to job stimulus. The response from the GOP has been the same each time: give us everything we want, and we'll talk. Yeah, that isn't how negotiations work.

    June 25, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  14. Rogue351

    If anyone is going to get sued it should be the GOP for doing Nothing over the last 6 years. Or for taking money from the NRA and allowing all of these so called "responsible" gun owners let so many guns on our streets and fall into the hands of nuts. Or maybe the Tea Party along with the religious right for trying to for what essentially equates to the American version of the Taliban, anti science, anti gay, anti women with a Nazi agenda. Or maybe the rich for sending so many American jobs overseas, Romney !

    June 25, 2014 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  15. Katrina Allen

    If GOP is peruing a lawsuit, then the GOP needs to pay for all of it. Aren't half of them lawyers, if they can't do it pro-bono, then they REALLY don't want to do it.

    June 25, 2014 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  16. greenaxe

    I say when Obama wins the majority back in November, he goes after Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld for being war criminals. Back in 2008 Obama chose to put that issue behind him and move on. It's obvious how deep the hate runs with the GOP and Obama so what does he have to lose at this point? I guess we already forgot the "decider guy" in Bush.

    June 25, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  17. David

    More gimmicky trash from the author of the "contract with America" that went absolutely NO WHERE. But their voter base of uneducated yokels that constantly vote against their own best interest eat up stupid stuff like this!

    Does this mean that tax paying citizens of the USA can sue Boehner and his cohorts for wasting time and our tax dollars on political waste-of-time stunts like this?!?

    Hows that contract w/ America going Boehner? It's been a few years now and we haven't seen a thing.

    June 25, 2014 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  18. john

    So the GOP is not only a do nothing party but they will sue anyone who actually tries to do anything in washington?

    June 25, 2014 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  19. DemBones

    The do nothing GOP is mad because we DEMS just do it! Boehner needs to get his party to put on a happy face and work with the President so everyone can make better policies that gives support to the best interest of the people, not the loners, or the lobbiest, or the people who have nothing to do with the real problems common and ordinary people face everyday. Otherwise, the GOP will never be elected President because of the stinking crap they are doing in House. Boehner, enough of the politics! It's time to govern, otherwise, you are part of the problem.

    June 25, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  20. greenaxe

    This is just Boehner being Boehner...he cries every time he needs his diaper changed.

    June 25, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  21. Gurnicus Blanstonius

    Guess Boehner doesn't think they'll win the Senate afterall.

    June 25, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  22. p.c.fulton

    Boehner knows that sueing is just crap. He's just doing it to pacifiy his tea bag base. Never going anywhere.

    June 25, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  23. LouAZ

    “In our democracy, freedom means no one gets everything they want." –Anon ?

    June 25, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  24. Jim

    I gotta tell ya, I get a lot of entertainment reading the CNN Comments section. So many defenders of their "Chosen party", so many who believe the side they are on isn't actually at fault. Amazing how those of us in the middle, who think for ourselves instead of being told what to believe by a media source or a particular party, can clearly see that both the Republicans and the Democrats are equally at fault.

    June 25, 2014 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  25. Dan

    It is about time. Obama is not upholding our immigration laws and should be sued for it. He has a duty to the American people not illegal immigrants.

    June 25, 2014 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
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