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. Popo

    This is a serious issue. The more power we consolidate in one place the more the checks and balances that make our country stable go away. Its not about this president. It is about the next, and the next. Imagine if a conservative president gets in place and drives his/her agenda by executive order without regard for the people. This did not start wtih Obama, it started long ago with Kenedy and every president since. Already the war powers act is too broad, killing of Americans over seas is accepted, our borders are porus and privacy laws are under siege. We are slowly giving away our rights to meet immediate political and emotional whim. You may not like the opposition, but without balance we are all doomed.

    June 25, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  2. Ryan Farnham

    Sounds like the president actually is a good CEO and has at least some balls in some areas though far from enough in other areas.

    June 25, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  3. Jamal

    It's sad that our president has to be legally compelled to follow the Law.

    June 25, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  4. Sonny

    Liberals will go ballistic with their comments over this but they can NOT deny that this President thinks he can do anything he wants with executive powers. He even says it "i dont need approval". It is out of control. Absolute power corrupts !

    June 25, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  5. raphaelsalgado488

    If Boehner can sue Obama for excessive action, can the American people sue Boehner and the rest of Congress for excessive inaction?

    June 25, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  6. Pat in IL

    When is somebody going to take Boehner's "idiot pills" away from him?!?

    June 25, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  7. Jerry

    More time and cash wasting by the Republicans in Congress instead of doing something productive for this country.

    June 25, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  8. NH Guy

    I want to sue Congress for ineptitude, uselessness, and misuse of taxpayer money.

    I think Americans on both sides of the political spectrum need to get rid of every clown in congress and start over with some intelligent members who are willing to work together regardless of their political affiliation.

    Term limits for Congress and the Supreme Court, 8 year maximum, just like presidents.

    June 25, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  9. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The only thing the GOP has done is shutdown the Government and now they want to shutdown the President. This Congress isn't working for the American people, they're working to destroy the President as they promised from day one. They are pathetic.

    June 25, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  10. Gary

    You all scare me. It is not about the president being black. It is the policies he is enacting. Stop hiding behind the race card. Can't you all speak to the issue instead of changing the subject to jobs, or calling anyone who challenges him "racist", or diverting the topic to something else. You all are pitiful! I agree that the legislature is doing a crappy job. But that is not a reason to let someone act illegally. Go back to school and study civics. The executive branch has a purpose, duties, and there is a designed-in balance of power in our government. The whole point is he is not doing HIS job, he is doing the legislatures job. God help us if someone doesn't call him out on it. How many of you supported Nixon being called out (actually impeached) when he abused his power? Thank God the Democrats did! Now the shoe is on the other foot. Ignoring the abuse of power will result in totalitarianism. Yes, everyone shut up and be nice like the Germans did when Hitler went out of control. (No, I am not saying Obama is like Hitler, it was simply an analogy).

    June 25, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  11. Malcolm

    I'm tired of the GOP using tax payer's money and wasting Congress' time on this crusade against Obama. The American public will hopefully not be fooled by this and will recognize that the GOP has been taken over by people who would rather engage in politics, racism, sexism, homophobia, religious persecution, and elementary-school-style blame games than work for the betterment of the nation. Lets just hope if the Democrats gain more from this politically that they don't let the increased prestige and power go to their heads, as they aren't entirely guiltless either.

    June 25, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  12. WW

    Shouldn't we have an amendment stating that our elected reps act like adults?

    June 25, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  13. disanitnodicos`

    I wish I could have seen the Buckwheat look of surprise on Obama's face when he heard about this.

    June 25, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  14. HenryMiller


    Obama is a disaster who very much needs to be stopped.

    June 25, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  15. Tina C.

    President Obama has issued fewer executive orders than all presidents in the last 100 years, aside from George H. W. Bush. Boehner's contention is ridiculous. His move will only make him and his party appear more disconnected with reality.

    June 25, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  16. Stephen

    Now we just need to toss him in prison for lying about his birth place to gain public office. We should also deport him to perhaps some hard labor camp in Kenya, where he is a true citizen of anyway. His wife should get jail for knowing the truth and going along with it. His kids should stay in America as they were too young to know what actions they should take, they are minors after all. I just can't wait till the next election, whoever we get can't be much worse.

    June 25, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  17. TommytheT

    just to cut off all the silly push back about how little Mr Obama issues Executive orders, just remember and Executive Order could be used to actually fulfill the work of the Executive Branch...something Mr Obama is way to lazy to worry about, or used to completely by-pass Congress something Obama not only threaten to do but actual does.

    So to just throw out the numbers of EO by each POTUS w/o actually understand the orders is pretty ignorant. and just a last line of defense over the indefensible.

    June 25, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  18. furianxo

    For those quoting executive order numbers by the presidents, it isn't the number of orders that matter, its the nature of the order.

    June 25, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Maybe the President should sue Boehner for not passing budgets.

    June 25, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  20. Terrie

    At whose expense?

    June 25, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  21. woodie

    Congress protects the right to do nothing useful. For example if we want health care reform, we'd veto health care reform.

    June 25, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  22. Tru

    While this is insane (plans to sue President Obama); at least he's doing somthing other than voting to repeal the ACA! Now if we can just get Boner to understand and appreciate the word "compromise"!

    June 25, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  23. hillary the skank

    all things considered, he's prepping him for an impeachment run. and well deserved at that. all these democrat communist wannabes need to be removed. they have completely devestated the economy (starting with clinton) and are one step away from renaming this the USSA. if nothing happens to get this country back on track, we will be soon overrun by our enemies and you will all be wishing that things had been different from your labor camps.

    June 25, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  24. Kuato

    Court is now in session. The honorable judge Gerald Springer presiding...

    June 25, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  25. Republican supporter of President Obama

    I think those who were voted into office just to depose Obama should be brought to court to answer why they have not done anything else for this country. There are much bigger issues to deal with.

    Yet again another reason why we should get out and vote for EACH and EVERY election. These people get into office and waste our time and money fooling around. I am getting sick of reading this stuff each day.

    Do SOMETHING positive for once. If you do not then leave office and let mature problem solvers do the work.

    Vote the GOP out!

    June 25, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
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