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. Michael Krieger

    I guess the Speaker has nothing better to do with his time, considering he presides over a do nothing House

    June 25, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  2. thunder1road

    It's all part of the Republican plan to create jobs (for lawyers) (at taxpayer expense).

    June 25, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  3. Steve

    The only thing that has eroded is the legislative branch's choice to do their jobs. This, another waste of time and resources.

    June 25, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    I certainly hope he's suing as a private citizen and not wasting taxpayer money.

    June 25, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  5. Tony Torres

    What a waste of our money!!!!!

    June 25, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  6. cf

    Obama has used fewer executive orders than any other president in modern history. I don't recall a single complaint from Boehner and his cronies when Bush was dealing out executive orders left and right.

    June 25, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  7. CPH SF

    This is a huge joke, Boehner playing to his cronies on the right......Executive order is going to be tough to fight. Full Stop

    June 25, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  8. Lizzie

    carol baltzell
    If Boener and the GOP would do their job then there would be no need for executive orders.
    -- then it must have been Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi's and the democrats fault for Pres.Bush to write executive orders.

    June 25, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC


    Funny Congress doesn't like executive orders but they do like to skip the war powers act on the current situation in Iraq.
    What is really curious is that when the uprising first began in Syria, Pres. Obama was contemplating what, if any, military action to take, which is when Republicans jumped up and shouted out, "War Powers Act." So, we put military action in Syria to a vote, and action was voted down. They also voted down funding for military aid to rebels, but not humanitarian aid to refugees.

    Today, we hear Republicans screaming about how Pres. Obama did nothing in Syria, after having drawn a red line. They scream about how his lack of action in Syria helped nurture an atmosphere for the growth of ISIS. They blame Pres. Obama for not reneging on the SOFA agreement signed by Pres. Bush, because he ignored their calls to stay in Iraq, deal or no deal.

    Are you seeing a pattern here, folks?

    June 25, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  10. Raoul Duke, Doctor of Journalism

    "no other president in history has played as much golf as this guy has" Spare me the faux rage. How many presidents spent nearly half of their term HIDING OUT DRUNK IN TEXAS? Dick Cheney was the real president. Did that even upset you a tiny bit? I bet you still say Dubya was a great president.

    June 25, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    How delicious it is to listen to Boehner's stooges eat this stuff up. You'd think after his jobs, jobs, jobs mantra in 2010, they'd understand what useless prater he's selling them; but no - they fall for his prattle time after time.

    June 25, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  12. EMcK

    So Boehner – where were you during the Bush administration when he used executive orders more than any president in history and became the first to promote the theory of a "unitary executive"? Oh wait . . . I forgot . . . it's okay if you're a Republican right?

    June 25, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  13. Rick Norris

    Where was Bonehead when Bush was really abusing the Executive Order system. The GOP continues to make me sick on a daily basis.

    June 25, 2014 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  14. Truth Slinger

    It's absolutely astonishing to Dems to think that they have to obey laws. It's called, "Fundamentally Changing the Requirement to Follow the Law Unless You are a Republican THEN you MUST Obey". It's called, "Fundamental Lying". It's called "Fundamental Destruction of America". It's called, "Fundamentally Removing Common Sense and Decency and 200 Years of Heritage". Why is Obama even still in office and not in prison?

    June 25, 2014 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  15. Brendan (A registered Republican)

    I seem to remember Republican congressmen saying that the GOP’s number one priority was to make Obama a one term president and they were going to go against anything he tried to do.

    June 25, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  16. Bob

    And Obama can sue Congress for abusing the filibuster, and both trials can be held at the same time for the same result.

    June 25, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  17. Abron

    Boehner knows very well that these things have all gone to court and the courts refused to even hear them. He wants publicity and hopes people will think he is actually doing something. He's wasting time and suckering in the GOP fans.

    June 25, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    Fellow Americans? I all fairness, what don't you like of this President's below accomplishments. Remember he did all these alone with the Republican party on NO saying NO as usual
    The fact that he's Black, POTUS and a Democrat to boot.
    But you already knew that Roger didn't you? Wink!

    June 25, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  19. WhatAWorld

    Hmm... Bone-Head-Ner must first have his Legislative Party pass a law that U.S. Citizens can sue them for all the damage they have done beginning with the "W" (Dumbya) years and through the past "do-nothing" 6 years... then and only then can he bring on his temper tantrum suit. These clowns get denser by the hour...

    June 25, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  20. Peter

    Saw this post:

    "Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....
    tommy smith says:
    June 25, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm
    While we’re at it, let’s also list his “firsts”.

    First President to refuse to show a valid birth certificate."

    Oh my God. The birth certificate nonsense again!

    Will this madness ever end from these whack jobs?

    June 25, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |

    Boehner.. what took you so long? You now realized that your Job is on the line? Di d you and your Golf buddy's agreed to allow this to go forward and have it rigged? Hint you don't do it you loose your job, you loose the case you loose your job. You win you will be a GOP king. If you win I bet you agree to pass law that equal to what Obama used the executive order for. Then Obama get what he wants and you keep your job.. Either way we the People don't trust you, Congress or Obama. Prove us wrong..

    June 25, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  22. kurt

    I couldn't find the "In case CNN missed it" section on the left hand side of the page, so I figured I'd post it here:

    Economy shrank 2.9% in 1Q, worst drop since '09

    C'mon CNN. The least you can do is report the news. You can always fall back on "It's George Bush's fault".

    June 25, 2014 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  23. Erick

    Oh when oh when will these people we voted for act like adults!!

    June 25, 2014 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  24. Abron

    I'm glad Truth Slinger asked his question; Why isn't Obama in prison? Well, Truth. It's pretty simple: because no court thinks he has done anything wrong. You may think he has, but your opinion is not one that actually matters. Thank you for your silly post.

    June 25, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  25. TrumanTown

    Obama issues fewer executive orders than any president in recent memory and Boehner decides he has to sue. Does he want more executive orders, or is he just late in suing W?

    June 25, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
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