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. Thatguy371

    Wasn't this goofball silent when Bush did the same thing?

    June 25, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  2. woodie

    We, the congress, reserve the right to be useless.

    June 25, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  3. Fred

    The DO NOTHING Republicans are absolutely pathetic. That is why their approval rating is in single digits. Boehner is the worst Speaker this country has ever seen. He needs to go away...

    June 25, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  4. Dave in SC

    Average executive orders per month:

    Barack Obama – 2.72
    George W. Bush – 3.03
    Ronald Reagan – 3.97

    Another GOP talking point bites the dust.

    June 25, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  5. Debbie

    Boehner–whining again.

    The party of NO is at it again. I cannot believe I ever voted previously for republicans.

    June 25, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  6. Fed

    I can't understand how politicians get away with this, why doesn't the media in the US hold their political leaders accountable. In 2010 The GOP ran on a platform of where are the jobs. They get the House of Representatives back from the Democrats and for the last 4 years in power all they have done is cause havoc. Not a single bill to help Americans with Jobs and improve the economy. block bills and ideas from the democrats and the President. Fight not to pay back what they have spent during the debt ceiling debacle of 2011 and 2013. Accuse the president of being unamerican and democrats as evil. Yet the media still have to call things straight down the middle. This is what the republican said this is what the democrats said. no objectivity and no tale of whats really happening in Washington DC. Congress is deadlocked is because of one party who for whatever reasons have blocked progress of this great nation. They can't believe that an African American has twice been elected by the majority of the American People as POTUS all they can do is to delegitimise his presidency by blocking him at every turn. By doing this they can't see beyond their biases that they hurting the country. Democracy eh....!

    June 25, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  7. Visara

    Don't sue him, IMPEACH him! He's doing nothing but destroying this country day by day

    June 25, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  8. HenryMiller

    @sixela2: "Obama wouldn't have to use executive order if you try working with him."

    Working with him? Working with the man who's doing his best to destroy the American economy and the American way of life? You have got to be kidding!

    June 25, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  9. tommy smith

    While we're at it, let's also list his "firsts".

    First President to refuse to show a valid birth certificate.

    First President to apply for college aid as a foreign student, then deny he was a foreigner.

    First President to have a social security number from a state he has never lived in.

    First President to preside over a cut to the credit rating of the United States.

    First President to violate the War Powers Act.

    First President to be held in contempt of court for illegally obstructing oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

    First President to defy a Federal Judges court order to cease implementing the Health Care Reform Law.

    First President to require all Americans to purchase a product from a third party.

    First President to spend a trillion dollars on shovel-ready jobs and later admit there was no such thing as shovel-ready jobs.

    First President to abrogate bankruptcy law to turn over control of companies to his union supporters.

    First President to by-pass Congress and implement the Dream Act through executive fiat.

    First President to order a secret amnesty program that stopped the deportation of illegal immigrants across the U.S., including those with criminal convictions.

    First President to demand a company hand-over $20 billion to one of his political appointees.

    June 25, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  10. Republican supporter of President Obama

    BTW – I am still waiting to see the lawsuit for GITMO and the Iraqi war..... Just saying.

    June 25, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  11. LostSailor

    It's about time! Get this loser out of the White House!!

    And for those complaining about wasting tax dollars on this issue, get a grip. How much does it cost taxpayers every time Barry goes to New York on another fundraising trip to glad hand with his banker and hedge fund buddies?? And every time he plays golf (no other president in history has played as much golf as this guy has)??

    June 25, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  12. Adam Morad

    What a WASTE of time and money!! Here is a clue there Johnny, this president has the right to bypass laws passed by congress, it's called a signing statement. You know, the same ones that your buddy Bush signed over 1300 times.. Where was the outrage from you then??? You are nothing more than a hysterical baby who cries when he doesn't get what he wants.. Hopefully the people of your district come to their collective senses and vote you out of office!!

    June 25, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  13. SteveB

    Hey Boehner. Let's go back in time then and sue George W. Bush for having 291 executive orders (as compared to Obama's 180 or so). Or let's step back and sue your and your colleagues' BFF Ronald Reagan for having 381! Give me a break.

    June 25, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  14. SHON

    The GOP is making themselves look more and more incompetent as the hours go by. A single day can't pass without them trying to come up with some illogical, political scheme. How about focus on the best interest of the American people and not their personal agendas or their wallets. -sigh-

    June 25, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  15. LostSailor

    Obama < Bush

    June 25, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  16. trollieman

    so..who's going to pay for the lawyers to sue the president, then Obama's lawyers will be paid by the tax payer since he is in office..looks like a lot of wasted money, tells us how out of touch john is

    June 25, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  17. Republican supporter of President Obama

    Any good judge would through this lawsuit out before there was a hearing. Time well wasted.

    Total waste of time and space. Time to vacate your seat JB.

    June 25, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  18. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    JJ says:
    June 25, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm
    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.

    He is President of his country. America. He was born on American soil in Hawaii. Can Ted Cruz say the same??😗

    June 25, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  19. Gammar

    Bush averaged 36 executive actions per year, Obama 28.

    Hey Boehner – how stupid do you think we are?

    June 25, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  20. HenryMiller

    @Anonymous: "Maybe the President should sue Boehner for not passing budgets."

    The House does pass budgets. Then then Harry Reid kills them in the Senate.

    June 25, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  21. Introbulus

    @Dave: I don't know if you're being sarcastic or not, but that averages out to about 300 Executive orders for every president before him.

    June 25, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  22. Person

    This is just another "back Obama into a corner" game. Behind all the hooting about Obama's imaginary dictator and socialist tendencies, the Right blocked Obama over and over again until he finally gave up on working with them and used another perfectly legal technique to implement what we voted for him to do. So now the right gets to claim that Obama is acting dictatorially, an appearance that's really the result of their own manipulation. It's an attempted rope-a-dope–except Obama is actually winning the round, which is why Boehner needs to trump up another expensive "investigation" that will go nowhere.

    June 25, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  23. kws11

    Why no mention of Dianne Feinstein? Oh yeah... SHE thinks Obama is overstepping his authority too. Looking more closely, it seems that only the dimwit Pelosi was available to comment on this at all.

    June 25, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  24. Lucas

    "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."

    sixela2, that makes no sense. Congress represents the will of the people. If they don't agree with the president on something, the President cannot simply act like a King to do what he wants. Maybe democrats should try working with republicans for a change.

    June 25, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    And here we go again election year Boehner and the wingnuts plotting something. Instead on focusing on productive issues their constantly on Obama. Get over it he's president you looney bins...wingnuts still don't even have a person with enough sense to be President. Stay up PRESIDENT OBAMA their plans will fall like a house of cards.

    June 25, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
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