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. tet1953

    Why now and not, say, six months ago? Because with the primaries now out of the way Boehner needs controversy going into the fall. Much more to come, I'm sure.

    June 25, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  2. Premal D.Shah

    Boehner, I knew that you were frustrated with your current salary, but isnt this a bit ridiculous?

    June 25, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  3. Dave

    Is it really a "precedent" for President Obama to issue 175 Executive Orders when the previous 43 Presidents issued a total 13314 Executive Orders before him?

    June 25, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  4. Steve

    Boehner and the Republicans in the Congress have done nothing but grandstand since Obama was elected. This is the least productive Congress in the history of the US, and while both parties share the blame, Republicans are the ones refusing to compromise on anything.

    June 25, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  5. TallusRip

    Oh ffs, Boehner, stop whining like a child that just got grounded. If you had the votes to do anything about the President's right to issue executive orders, you wouldnt have to sue him. All youve done is force his hand. It's no different than the tantrum your party threw about the ACA 45 times and then had the brass to blame Dems for the government shut down that YOU caused.

    Republicans. The idiots leading the ignorant.

    June 25, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  6. JJ

    It should have been done a long time ago. The United States doesn't need a dtctator, he has weakened the U.S. with his horrible energy policy, jobs policy (doesnt' have one) foreign policy and the list goes on, but that reflects in his job approval rating . Maybe Mr. Obama can move back to his country and be the dictator there.

    June 25, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  7. eenlsdad

    Its time to sue congress for not doing their job!!!!!!! They are stealing the taxpayers money and calling it a salary and have accomplished NOTHING to better our Country. But has done everything in its power to throw it back into the 17th century!!!

    June 25, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  8. Republican supporter of President Obama

    Can we normal citizens sue Congress for all the obstruction and crap they have put us through since 2009? The GOP is not the solution they are the problem. This is just another attempt to distract us from the real issue – they are not fit to be in office and should be voted out in November.

    June 25, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. Maria

    Sue Boehner for destroying this country and getting in the way of progress!

    June 25, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  10. Katya


    W sure as heck did. He issued 291 executive orders over his 8 years in office. Obama has issued 180 in 6 years. FDR released the most, at a whooping 3,522.

    June 25, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  11. Doc R

    This president has overstepped his authority, denied the execution of law, and created new laws (which isn't his job). When that happens, there is a word for the appropriate response. It is call "impeachment". Why haven't we heard more about this?

    June 25, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  12. Nick

    Here's a funny thought. Why don't we use the existing framework set forth by the constitution, Congressional policies and procedures, and Robert's rules of order to resolve greivances? That would be great. This once again proves IMO that NOTHING will ever change in our country until people fulfill their civic duty and organize to coordinate a massive sweeping change in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Congress has the power to overrule anything that the president does. If you're unhappy with a perceived abuse in the executive order system it should be pursued through Congress. Want change? THAT is how you do it. The fact that Boehner is filing a suit in court just illustrates both his ignorance and his party's lack of negotiating power.

    June 25, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  13. MNClownfactory

    Correction: for Lavender_Lady1

    Many Americans believe Congress has wasted too much time and money on legal action that has gone no where since the secone year of President Obama's 1st term. Most Amerians hold Congress to blame for not acting on easy bipartisan issues like immigration & tax reform. Both of these issued have been tabled by John B and instead they have tried to repeal the ACA 23+ times and failed. This Republican congress is the works bunch of do nothing losers who only care for their tiny little corner of their states. Instead of taking the wishes of their constituents and compromising with other law makers they dig in their heels and do nothing.

    June 25, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  14. Matt

    Stop wasting my tax dollars on frivolous law suits John and pass some tax reform or a comprehensive jobs bill or your so called better alternative to obamacare. I'm sick of you and I hope you lose your job like your side kick did last week.

    June 25, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  15. Obummer

    A government of Obama, by Obama, and for Obama.

    June 25, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  16. Jodo

    Wow. The obama trained haters are out in force today. The unwashed masses apparently don't have jobs to go to.

    It must be terrible for you people to realize what a profound failure obama is; and then to think that you voted for him TWICE must make your heads spin. You were played like two dollar fiddles, and now the song is over and it was a bust

    Now all that you have left is hatred and your foodstamps. I truly feel sorry for those of you who were left holding the empty bag - or the empty suit in obama's case

    June 25, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  17. tonyb

    yup- politics never entered Bonehead's mind.....the republicans have done all they could to work with the President.....god I hope they are destroyed in November....

    June 25, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  18. Lucas

    Obama has superseded his authority dozens of times, from immigration, to unilaterally regulating coal emissions, to arming Al Qaeda in Syria. Whether or not you agree with his policies is irrelevant; he has made himself a king, and that is not the American way. I fully support this lawsuit, as should every freedom-loving American citizen.

    June 25, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  19. sixela2

    Boehner and the rest of the GOP goons should be ashamed of themselves. This is disgusting. Obama wouldn't have to use executive order if you try working with him.

    June 25, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  20. Reuben R. Lampe

    How dumb does Mr. Boehner think the American people are? Maybe we are come to think of it if we can't see how he is pulling the wool over our eyes.

    June 25, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  21. Flan

    Circus politics.

    June 25, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  22. furianxo

    this administration could be chopping heads off in the front lawn of the white house, on a daily basis, and l1beral america will still think everything is ok.

    June 25, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  23. gg

    Yes, let's sue the do-nothing Republican Congress for wasting taxpayer dollars and criminally insulting the intelligence of the American people.

    June 25, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  24. Ace

    Least productive House in history.

    June 25, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  25. SHatRO

    Congress has very little power in the courts to "sue" the President. Lawsuits have to come from individuals directly affected by the executive actions, not congress people who want to overstep their own Constitutional boundaries. Since when has Boehner and crew actually DONE anything anyway – "we want to sue the POTUS in the SCOTUS for doing things when the COTUS is paralyzed". Yeah, right. What comes around goes around. Meanwhile the executive orders will stay in effect until overturned or clarified by Congress (not going to happen) or overturned by a conservative POTUS (also probably not going to happen). The GOP in the House is once again proving themselves to be irrelevant amateurs.

    June 25, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
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