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. uhhuh

    It is a shame the first black president has turned out to be known best as a law breaker.
    Ah, so now we are getting down to it. A President who happens to be black is doing exactly what every other President prior to him has done, only NOW it's a problem. Thanks for clearing that up.

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

    This should be an issue that unifies our country. Clinton, Bush and Obama have issued too many executive orders to govern. I have much more respect for our fore fathers than any of the current inhabitants in D.C. today. Yes the fore fathers were not perfect socially but they were progressives in many ways for their time period.

    There is a reason we have separation of duties set up. We should respect them. Neither side should be 100% of what they want. ACA was rammed through. A better plan likely emerges if it is done correctly. Same for many new laws.

    Long past time for the centrists to take control back from the wingers on the left and right. Pelosi and Co., McConnell and Co. need to go bye bye.

    June 25, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  3. peterz

    Not good plan for American Congress?

    June 25, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  4. hoodrich

    Boehner is the farrah Abraham of politics

    June 25, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  5. eric

    I don't think that the House GOP challenged the Defense of Marriage Act. I think they took up the cause when the Attorney General and President announced that they were not enforcing it. I believe there was a Supreme Court Case US v. Windsor where the House GOP stepped in for the Attorney General to "enforce" DOMA.

    June 25, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  6. jeremy

    It's all of our faults, the voters, for voting these disagreers into office. Seems like half of the country is GOP, the other half is Dem. I'm sick of both parties, really. Congress shouldn't get paid until they accomplish something meaningful for working people. But they get paid a lot and are screwing us American People. I'm sick of it. It just seems like there is no use to even vote anymore cause either way, the USA is crumbling down the toilet, and fast! None of them are worth anything!!!!!!!!!!

    June 25, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  7. mike

    Oh boo-hoo. Obama is doing what Presidents have every right to do, and even more so given the GOP's inarguably unprecedented obstruction of Congress.

    June 25, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  8. fladventurers

    The GOP is pathetic. No solutions: Only whining, obstruction, and conspiracies...please come up with something before 2016.....


    June 25, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  9. zandhcats

    "Obama isnt even an American Get him out of office now"

    I don't need the poll to tell me how uneducated of the Republican voter is,just read the comments in the news blog, I find a lot. BTW, will you say Canadian Cruz is an American?

    June 25, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  10. Gene

    John Boehner should be forcibly and physically removed from his office and not be allowed to return; he is a boil on America.

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

    I love the smell of an administration absolutely out of control being held accountable. I know the liberals don't understand the meaning of the word accountable but try to keep up.

    June 25, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  12. Margaret

    I think the American people should be able to sue congress for not doing their job. Funny if the president acts it is wrong, if he does not act it is wrong. When he was elected the Republicans said they were going to stop him by voting against everything and they pretty much have done that. Instead of doing what is best for the country, they have pretty much stalled this country from going forward. You Democrats don't get off either, you have to work with the Republicans to get the work done and None of you seem to care about the American people or the country. Let it all burn till the next election. And how has that worked out?

    June 25, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  13. Steve

    Have to say I love the picture. Who is the President in this picture? Mr. Obama, please think about the perception here. You are on the left, Biden on the right and Boehner in the middle. Maybe it is just an innocent picture but it looks odd to have the Speaker in the middle when he is technically third in line.

    June 25, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  14. Mari

    Well can I sue Congress for fraudulent use of my tax payer dollars while we are on the subject of suing!!!???

    June 25, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  15. wendigarou

    You can't be a "do nothing" congress solely for the sake of spiting the president (and the country who voted him in) and then sue him for taking the only measure he has to get something done. RIDICULOUS! Boehner should be trying to get the GOP/TP to do something besides carrying out their petty, racially charged vendetta against the president.

    June 25, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  16. fladventurers

    The GOP is pathetic....please come up with something other than conspiracies, whining, and obstruction before 2016.


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

    OH!? And misrepresentation...they said they were for the people by the people....not for self by self....

    June 25, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  18. kbudd

    Funny how the republicans want to sue over the use of Executive Orders - but George Bush had 291 (vs. President Obama's 167) during his 2 terms in office. Now they say it is an abuse of power???

    George W. Bush Total
    13198 – 13488
    I 173 13198 – 13370
    II 118 13371 – 13488
    Barack Obama

    168 13489 – 13656...
    I 147 13489 – 13635
    II 21 13636 – 13656...

    June 25, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  19. spoo

    then, bush should be in jail now

    June 25, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  20. Wade

    I do not doubt that the liberals at CNN will try to defend Obama that is what they do no matter ow much he destroys America or breaks the laws or fails. So come liberals let it rip!

    June 25, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  21. Edsell

    If you want to know what went wrong with our country.......look no further than MSNBC and Fox News

    June 25, 2014 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  22. Anthony

    *Yawn* .. Waste of time ..

    June 25, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  23. Gabbo

    OWEbama loves giving away MY money !!

    June 25, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  24. Joe

    Americans voted for a non-American to be dictator. What is the issue, we now have a dictator?

    June 25, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  25. John Henson

    In my mind's eye, I can see dozens of lawyers ready to charge $5,000/hour for this case. Who's paying?

    June 25, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
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