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. truebrill

    that's because congress managed to free up more of the president's schedule...the time he had pencilled in for signing congressionally passed bills seemed to consistently open up each week...thats why presidents are supposed to have busy schedules, so they don't have time to sit around with executive powers and free time

    June 25, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  2. budshot

    This is pure nonsense and lies (as usual) on Boehner's part, of course. He's chumming for votes. He hasn't done a positive thing since he's been in charge of the House. All he's led is obstruction. Boehner is the poster boy for the WORST a politician can be.

    June 25, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  3. Introbulus

    Of course, I'm not surprised that it took this long to get around to issuing a lawsuit about this.

    After all, John Boehner is a congressman. He's used to things taking at least a month to make any progress.

    June 25, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  4. rosaadriana2014

    Seriously? Didn't Bush do this like a zillion times and no one cared? Why the sudden concern?

    June 25, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  5. Michael Sawyer

    Pretty weak threat from a do nothing congress with a do nothing record and a do nothing speaker.

    June 25, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  6. secondhopper

    time to dissolve the "republicans"

    June 25, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  7. Republican supporter of President Obama

    ....and in other news..... America looks weak to everyone else in the world because we have immature people in office that are tied to the GOP who waste valuable time on obstruction than actually doing what they are supposed to do. (Huge Hint: LEAD).

    June 25, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  8. Louis Merriken

    Boehner is just wasting more time and money. What A FOOL!!!!!

    June 25, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  9. Shootingstarj

    thank God! It's about time someone tries to halt this would-be dictatorship by Obama. 100% support here!

    June 25, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  10. Dave

    Good, let Boehner sue! This will finally answer the question of whether or not the executive branch must notify Congress. We all know why they wanted the 30 day window, so Republicans could always have 30 days to undermine the president's military strategy. I don't think Congress (THIS Congress especially) should be trusted with that level of power over the executive.

    June 25, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  11. Rhea

    Boehner is letting a bill sit while the long term unemployed has lost their unemployment insurance and many of these people are veterans. They are losing their homes/ apts at crazy rates, but he has time to sue the president.

    June 25, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  12. foxghostwriter

    For those stating that it isn't the number of executive orders that presents a problem, but the types of EO's, care to list any of those that Obama has signed that vary from ones used previously? Here's a helpful hint: Bush also signed EO's similar to those about Obamacare.

    This is a waste of time brought to you buy the folks who don't mind wasting time and money. Mostly because the SC is not about to jump into this.

    June 25, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  13. Donald N. Mynatt

    It's not the number of executive orders that he's given, it's what the executive order encompasses. For instance the POTUS could give and executive order that declares that July 1 is Scottish American day in 2014 (just an example not real): That's not usurping the powers of congress. If the president makes an executive order declaring that certain lands are now under the purview of the BLM and require money from congress because he wants a company to build wind powered generators on them, that's an abuse of executive power. I'm a Democrat but not a sheep, the rest of you can fall into line behind a dictator, I won't. We have the three parts of the government to prevent exactly that, from abuse of power.

    June 25, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  14. raptor526

    Seriously with all the issues facing this country both internally and around the world – this is what Congress is going to waste it's time on? Are the Republicans so stupid they just don't get they work for the AMERICAN PEOPLE and with our vote we can FIRE EVERYONE of them? I am a registered Independent with no strong party affiliations either way but I know I am darn tired of th Republican agenda and the good old boy networking. We are adults not kids in high school. These guys made up their mind the day President Obama won his first term in office they would not work with him. SHAME ON THEM! Boehner and the rest of these jokers should go back and read their history books on the fall of the Roman Empire. Learn from history.

    June 25, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  15. Introbulus

    Jabs aside, I really am curious to see what Boehner has up his sleeve. You'll notice he's filing this lawsuit shortly after the debacle over an executive decision to make a prisoner exchange for a captured MP – something that genuinely does have a stink around it. And you'll notice he's specificallly suing over 'not telling' before making his executive orders, which is different than just issuing them. Boehner's not stupid.

    June 25, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  16. John

    Obama has signed 171, George "W" 290, Clinton 363 and Reagan 390. This is nothing more than a political stunt in a electon year and not one Republican will look up what just took me 55 sec to find.

    June 25, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    This is truly amazing

    June 25, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  18. David

    The TYRANT needs removed from office before he completes his destruction of America. If you only watch liberal media, you all will stay blind to what is REALLY going on with the MOST CORRUPT administration in America history. Don't be taken by surprise if obama is arrested or impeached!

    June 25, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  19. SteveS

    Presidents have been using Executive Orders for decades now.
    Boehner acts as if President Obama was the first President....EVER....to do so?
    What a surprise???
    Another blatant political move, by the party of NO.

    June 25, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  20. Lilliana

    Oh I would love to sit across a table from you, point right at your face and say Boenher, you are USELESS to this Country. You're FIRED

    June 25, 2014 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  21. Raoul Duke, Doctor of Journalism

    " obama seems toi think that he was elected Aytollah and forgets that he is supposed to work for the people"

    Aw, did you forget about the stimulus, Obamacare, getting revenge for 9-11, and about 100 other things? Sounds like the bank gangsters and insurance crooks and FOXnews owners are losing money on him and want you to get a mitt inside for them. And you CHEERED when Mitt said he wouldn't be president for the 47%(including retirees and military), so what's your point anyway? Like I keep saying, if you clowns hadn't cheered every time Bush made an executive order, this wouldn't be so ironically funny. No wonder you hate hearing Dubya's name. Seen his paintings yet? Why isn't he in jail?

    June 25, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  22. DonJuan1943

    Bring it on Mr. Boehner. It will be the first act of this do-nothing Congress. Clowns beneath the Capital Dome

    June 25, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  23. Ricky

    Don't you foolish liberals understand, that it's not the amount of executive orders that is the issue, but the content of them... OMG, you guys can't be that stupid, right? Or are you just conveniently ignoring the facts?

    June 25, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  24. Chris


    What world are you living in?? So every other president can use executive orders except this one who has a Congress that refuses to work at anything............Wow. No fair play in your book.

    June 25, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  25. Joeseph Eclaire

    When all else fails, sue.
    An American tradition since 1776.

    June 25, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
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