June 24th, 2014
07:52 PM ET
9 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. Voice of Reason

    "...we've seen clearly over the past 5 years is an effort to erode the power of the legislative branch..." No one has worked harder to erode the power of the legislative branch than the legislative branch itself. Record filibusters, repeated futile votes on the same subject (47 votes on Obamacare!), multiple shutdowns because they cannot agree on even the most trivial details.

    I wonder, Mr. Speaker, if you've spent any time looking in a mirror lately?

    June 25, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  2. idb

    It was about time that somebody acted on the lawlessness of the Obama administration.

    June 25, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  3. jondoe51

    Have to agree this is pretty much a non story and as Gary posted Obama did it only 180 times compared to other presidents if the GOP hasn't made it so hard to help the US public we wouldn't be here. The speaker may have to face the fact that he may longer be the speaker after the Mid Term elections it wouldn't surprise me if the Democrats win both houses. Doesn't matter the party congress has basically done nothing and there is no reason to believe that it will change

    June 25, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  4. Joesnopy

    Thanks for the list of executive orders by President because people in our country are too lazy to google it.

    June 25, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  5. ibwiz

    George W. Bush had a total of 291 executive orders and so far Obama has had only 191!

    June 25, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  6. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Cody says:
    June 25, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm
    Obama isnt even an American Get him out of office now

    Don't hold your breath Cody, he's just as American as you are. He was born on American soil to a mother from Kansas. Can Ted Cruz say the same?

    June 25, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  7. kurtinco

    Don't know why I bother to say that congress set up these executive agencies and the rules that govern how the president may administer those agencies. The president is using congressionally granted powers. To bad the republicans in congress have forgotten how to legislate. They might have been able to change some of the rules. This is a republican political ploy designed to keep focus off their nonexistent work record. Unfortunately, it will play well for the civically uneducated, in other words uneducated republican supporters, in other words jock supporters.

    June 25, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  8. Kitchen Witdget

    you can tell the majority of you are CNN sheep...... don't follow the law, just kiss the presidents' butt. Wake up people. America is being destroyed by all the illegally signed executive orders. It's not the numbers, it's the consistency of the blatant orders he's signing without going through the proper LEGAL channels

    June 25, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  9. Jez

    Can republicans get any uglier? Their only goal is to bring Obama down – they have no goals or ideas about how to make the lives of Americans better. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    June 25, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  10. Carlos

    The Congress hasn't done anything for job creation for the past 2 sessions. The President has used his "pen and phone" and has created jobs bring down the unemployment. What's best for the country? A President that does the job or a Congress that only cares about voting to bring down ACA? President wins every time.

    June 25, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  11. MaryM

    The bonehead and his minions are sounding just as insane asIssa and his minions. Both fools leading the repub fools

    June 25, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  12. Ken in MO

    This is without a doubt the most slimy congress in the history of our country. They have done more to hurt and divide our country that anytime since the civil war. The Republicans should be ashamed of themselves. The lies and trickery that they are using, just to cover up their bigotry is sickening. None of the facts support almost any position they have. It makes me sick!!!

    June 25, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  13. Steve B

    The guy who told Arizona not to enforce its own borders and who is now panicking as all these open borders allow in tens of thousands of illegal immigrants is a lawbreaker? No way!

    June 25, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  14. Lawrence

    Here we go again The Republicans just don't learn anything and do nothing for our country they shut down our country and really aren't doing a thing to help us Americans out.Boehner is a foolish grumpy lost old soul washed up forever hes the one that truly needs getting sued then again I might do that tired of arrogant Republicans.

    June 25, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  15. realoldguy

    Are Republicans actually good at anything besides slander and character assassination?

    June 25, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  16. Fed UP

    Boehner...do ya think you can at least have SOME respect for the position that you hold? You have got to be the most clueless Speaker we have ever had...SHUT UP ALREADY..we've heard this song and have seen you dance before and dude YOU CAN'T SING or DANCE...

    June 25, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  17. Bobbi

    If Boehner is serious he needs to do impeachment....not a lawsuit. Obama is the worse president (and I use the word president in his case loosely) we have ever ever ever ever ever had. Pelosi, biden, reid are right behind him as far as do nothing people but spend hard working American's money for their own personal needs. The days of honesty and caring about the American people is over. illegals are seen to them as voters. I wish there was a way we could make each of them Obama, Pelosi, reid, biden take about 2,000 home to feed, smell and provide for without tax payers money. this government is a mess, America is a mess with all the illegals, muslims, and culture destroyed by horrible horrible people.

    June 25, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  18. Big_D

    Boehner is probably just mad that the ACA (Obamacare) has resulted in the first time healthcare insurance rates in Florida have not increased in a decade. They are even going down for some in Florida! That means the GOP lied and we have proof! ACA works!

    June 25, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  19. peterz

    He failed again in the Dancing With Star show?

    June 25, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  20. Mmoore

    The country doe not need another sensational story authored by the Republican Party Leadership. It shows desperation and will not serve the country in any way. We need unity at this time. Iraqi Militants, Syrian Masacres, African Nut Cases, North Korean crazies, etc. The world is on the brink of disaster and the United States can not come unglued.

    June 25, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  21. Tony Manero

    Ted Olsen shocked me by being a lead advocate for gay marriage. If Cheney was a lawyer, I wold have him defend the NSA and Obama in court on anything about abuse of power .. . Cheney would be passionate about not abdicating it.

    June 25, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  22. Sarav SF

    How can I sue John Boehner and his congress for being incompetent and doing nothing but waste tax payers money the past many years? How can I sue him for hijacking the congress for a irrational group of Christian Taliban's view point?

    June 25, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  23. skinmansd

    Why isn't CNN covering the missing IRS emails. This is BIGGER than Iraq and watergate combined.

    June 25, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  24. Al

    Whatever your politics if folks can't see the blatant tactic of the Republicans to do everything in their power to make sure the President does not succeed. Look at the history of Executive Orders by other Presidents and now the cry baby Boehner is going to sue!!! Wow. I personally also find it refreshing that we do not immediately turn to war power to try and solve everything and get ourself involved in every other countries business as teh bully we seem to be perceived as being. I am so glad McCain was not elected President...just think about what we would be mired in...Personally, I am sick of the political climate in this country, how can we tell any other country how to run a country when our politics...in particular the Republicans and Tea Baggers putting up a wall to any potential progress...comprimise yes, of course but brick walls and stomping their feet like a child is holding this country hostage.

    June 25, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  25. ren

    cnn doesnt seem to think that obama's The Obama Drone Kill Memo is important but this is? Rand already did this for a number of other violations.

    June 25, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
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