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. dieselbug

    Any argument against the executive orders will likely fail because Boehner didn't bring any of the issues to vote in Congress, as is his duty as leader of the house. If Boehner did HIS job, the President wouldn't have to use Executive Orders to actually get anything done.

    June 25, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  2. Pat

    And just when I thought my hatred of John Boehner couldn't grow anymore.

    June 25, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  3. LindaLou

    Can we also sue Congress for doing absolutely nothing?

    June 25, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  4. Dean

    Boehner, quit talking about it and just do it. Sheeeesh.

    June 25, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  5. Odo

    "The President has a clear record of ignoring the American people's elected representatives"
    And the American people's elected representatives has a clear record of ignoring the American PEOPLE!!!!

    June 25, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  6. ken

    But yet when a Republican President does it it's AOKAY.

    June 25, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  7. John

    If/when the lawsuit is dismissed, will he cry?

    June 25, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  8. Wiley

    Just realize, Boehner, any restrictions you place on this president will affect future Republican presidents. You can't have it both ways.

    June 25, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  9. Dick Cheney's Sneer

    I like this sneer. It makes me feel above the plebes - the 47%. I can do anything with this sneer. I'm the King of the world with this sneer.

    June 25, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  10. Kevin

    Boehner doesn't have a case, this won't get past an Appellate court.

    The President has the power to issue executive orders detailing enforcement policies, and always has. Obama's smartest move in these EOs was to word them in a way that doesn't change the law itself, only how the Obama Administration will go about enforcing it.

    This just sounds like red meat for a base too ignorant in civics to understand they're being had.

    June 25, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  11. floyd from illinois

    Somebody ought to brief in the Speaker on the "separation of powers" clause of the Constitution. He acts like he never heard of the document.

    June 25, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  12. Vijay

    Another political stunt to win this year's election. nothing more than that.

    June 25, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  13. Tutuvabene

    Political fluff as ever there was.

    June 25, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  14. Dean


    Where was the outrage when W was doing this

    W never did this.

    June 25, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  15. LittleAztec

    Can we sue congress for non-performance?

    June 25, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  16. Jim

    Nice. Congress complains that proposed budget items aren't paid for, but then they go this route. Let's compare the number of Executive Orders issued on a President by President basis, then tell me he's abusing his power. The only abuse going on is that of the Republican Party abusing their powers to gerrymander districts and thus insure themselves of a majority in the House of Representatives. Maybe John needs to get a clue. He has no grounds for the lawsuit. Talk about setting a dangerous precedent...

    June 25, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  17. judith

    This is a stunt by Boehner to throw a bit of red meat to the wing-nuts (most of his own party). It will backfire because most Americans will see it for the useless ploy that it is. I would remind him that other Presidents have issued executive orders, yet Congress never threatened to sue. But Boehner is a pathetic, desperate man who can't control his House members, so he as to do something to try to remain relevant.

    June 25, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  18. Kevin

    Sick and tired of the glaring ignorance about Executive Orders.

    It's been a part of executive power since George Washington, Obama has been on the lower end of # of EO's in the last century, and the EO is a proclamation of enforcement policy which falls directly under executive purview.

    If you're going to complain about politics, don't be a bunch of ignoramuses when it comes to civics.

    June 25, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  19. RICK

    So is the Speaker of the House paying for his own lawyer? Waste of taxpayers money if not. Maybe the people should sue Congress for failure to do a DAMN thing at their job.

    June 25, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  20. Dick Cheney's Sneer

    This sneer wants us to go back to Iraq. We need that oil to fund the GOP.

    June 25, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  21. polarizedDysfunction

    GOP distracting the electorate with yet another "solution" without a problem. So disingenuous a frivolous, this is irresponsible waste of tax payer money and news cycles. Facts are facts and can't be refuted, here's the #'s of rankings of executive orders:

    President # of executive orders

    FDR 3,522
    Truman 907
    Eisenhower 484
    Kennedy 214
    Johnson 325
    Nixon 346
    Ford 169
    Carter 320
    Reagan 381
    G.H.W. Bush 166
    Clinton 364
    G.W. Bush 291
    Obama 168*

    *As of Jan. 20, 2014

    June 25, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  22. dave

    G.W.BUSH had 291 executive orders compared to Obama 168.........

    June 25, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  23. deee510

    Wow bonehead sue the president for helping Americans.meanwhile the house gop/tea party have passed no laws to help average Americans

    June 25, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  24. nemo0037

    What exactly is "bipartisan" about a panel with majority GOP members? That's a blatant lie... like all the othe BS that comes out of Congress for the past decade.

    June 25, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  25. Chuck

    Because the party of NO has nothing. Not one thing that they can keep going for the next 2 years. It is just a pitifull stance the rethuglicans are taking. This is just more partisan gibberish. The rethuglican party is dying a slow death, and it is just too much fun to watch. Maybe they will rebel, and start a civil war. They keep talking about taking back America. From who? They are now the minority, and if they keep up the stupid assaults on this presidency, they will never see the White House.

    June 25, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
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