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. Raoul Duke, Doctor of Journalism

    Gosh, how tragic it must be to be a Republican today. Your ultimatums are just ignored, and when you take words out of context there is a helpful YouTube clip to put them back in. People you used to bully are all of a sudden muscled up and coming towards you angrily, and when you try to order us all around, your voice squeaks like Barney Phyfe. You guys need testosterone.

    June 25, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  2. Vince

    How bout some jobs John? Or maybe some tax reform legislation? I'm less interested in your constant temper tantrums over a black president and more interested in what you're party is going to do to help the nation.

    June 25, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  3. Joe

    The world needs a good alien invasion to unite everyone in a common cause.

    June 25, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  4. catmomtx

    OMG!!! On one hand Republicans claim President Obama hasn't done a thing in his six years in office and then you have Boehner saying he might sue President Obama for doing exactly what other President's have done. He is trying to do his job, the job he was elected twice over Republicans to do by ALL voting Americans. How about Republicans stop screwing our country in their attempts to keep President Obama from accomplishing anything and just do their jobs. WE ALL had an opportunity to vote for President. Not so with Senators and House members. As such, it should be incumbent on them to work WITH our President rather than trying to overturn two fair elections.

    June 25, 2014 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  5. Chalpa

    Talk is cheap Boehner. And actions speak louder than words

    June 25, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  6. bill39

    "...side-stepping the legislative process." Which legislative process is that? Boehner and his colleagues have done everything possible to kill the process. Now he wants the judicial to help him? He's desperate.

    June 25, 2014 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  7. JulianC

    Where was the outrage when W was doing this?

    June 25, 2014 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  8. ManWithThe1000PoundBrain

    russellmuscle1 said:
    "All I will say is that even if you agree with Obama completely and feel that all of his decisions will ultimately be best for this country regardless of the obvious issues or clear reasons for opposition; he is setting a dangerous precedent."

    Obama is setting a bad precedent? By doing what? Issuing executive orders? George Washington issued executive orders so he set that precedent when he issued the very first executive order. And you have to go all the way back to the 1800s to find a president that has issued fewer than Obama. Obama's use of executive orders shows he's signed them at the lowest rate since the 19th Century. The last president to use so few executive actions was Grover Cleveland.

    June 25, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  9. Lavender_Lady1

    It's about time someone did something to thwart Obama's power grab.

    June 25, 2014 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  10. GOP FAIL

    And the Progressive party is going to sue Dick Cheney.

    June 25, 2014 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  11. dsangiovanni

    What I think has a dangerous implications for both our system of government and our economy is the way OUR low chamber has behaved during the WHOLE time Obama has been in office....

    June 25, 2014 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  12. Steve Allard

    The GOP reminds me of a bitter ex-spouse who wishes that their ex where dead ... or worse.

    June 25, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  13. GOP FAIL

    John Boehner spends way too much time getting a tan and smoking. Both have enormous cancer risks that will leave us taxpayers footing the bill. Some conservative values there.

    June 25, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  14. Richard John LeBoeuf

    Holy Smokes. What are these people on? The US judiciary is not equipped to settle partisan bickering in this way. If the President has broken the law, the mechanism to remove him already exists in the US Constitution – impeachment. That's the remedy and Republicans control the House. The SCOTUS does not exist to settle arguments between politicians. It is completely UNACCEPTABLE that instead of working together on bipartisan legislation in a divided government, all Republicans seem capable of is obstruction, shutting down government, and now suing the President – anything other than compromise and cooperation. And with more and more Tea Party members being elected, it's only getting worse. Boehner has no caucus without the Tea Nuts now. He has no choice but to use them and all their ideas are so extreme there's no way they can pass the Senate. President Obama issued fewer executive orders in his first term than any US President in the last 100 years. And he wouldn't have had to issue half of the ones he did were he not facing an overtly obstructionist House who met to derail his agenda before he even took office. This is a stupid idea and it won't solve the problem since the problem is Congress!

    June 25, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  15. Lavender_Lady1

    "Conservative Republicans have long complained that the President has overstepped his authority...."

    Correction: Many Americans have long complained that the President has overstepped his authority.

    June 25, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  16. Jim Rome

    If I had to place a wager on either Boehner who tried to repeal ObamaCare 45 times, or Obama who was the head of the Harvard Law Review, my money's on Obama.

    June 25, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  17. Buckeye Pilot

    Funny how the lib's don't care about the laws as long as there chosen one is the one breaking them. Typical Lib's ...rules are only for others, because they know better how we should all live. Yea this is the most transparent admin. in history.

    June 25, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  18. Ron L

    There is only one phrase that covers this announcement...PURE POLITICS. When will the Republican party decide to stop saying things that they KNOW are just blather. The last I heard, President Obama has used fewr executive orders than the last 2 or 3 Presidents. The only reason he has had to use ANY is there is a core group of Republicans that WILL NOT agree with the President on ANYTHING that will truly help the economy or the rights of certain individuals. I am very hopeful that moderate Republicans will one day take over the Republican party and bring some balance back to the nation. The next President WILL be Democratic and if the extreme wing of the Republican party is still driving the party get ready for 12 more years of what we have been seeing for the last 6 years. Yes I am absolutely sure, Hillary will run, Hillary will win!!

    June 25, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  19. WillB

    As long as he uses somebody else's money, fine. Do not use a dime of what I had to pay in taxes. It's usually wasted anyway, but this time waste the GOP's or their donors. Could cost hundreds of millions. Boehner has no authority to use tax money on it unless the entire Congress agrees.

    June 25, 2014 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  20. TomGI

    Boehner suing Obama has no importance to my family and myself. Complete waste of time and resources.

    It's like a child threatening to 'tell teacher' when the other kids won't let him have his way.

    June 25, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  21. sw621

    Will somebody just give that baby a bottle of milk and put him down for a nap please, his excessive whining is giving me a headache~! What a baby.... LAWD HAVE MERCY~!

    June 25, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  22. so much for honesty

    This is a waste of time and treasure of the US, Jobs you nubs, we need JOBS.....

    June 25, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  23. Friends

    What do you get when you put Harry Reid and Jon Boehner in the same room ? A Harry Boehner. !

    June 25, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  24. Taylor29

    Boehner you god damn whiny baby. Do us all a favor and withdraw from politics.

    June 25, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  25. Richard

    We can start by massive lawsuits against Bush and Cheney, followed by war crime trials, after which there will be a precedent to sue Obama. Oh wait....

    Actually, I almost wish Boehner would try something, just to demonstrate once again how petty and stupid the Republicans have become. Whiny children.

    June 25, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
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