WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner announced Wednesday that he would introduce legislation next month allowing the House to sue President Barack Obama over his use of executive actions.
In a letter to lawmakers, Mr. Boehner, R-Ohio, expressed concern with what he — and many in the Republican conference — considered the president’s unconstitutional overreach.
“The Constitution makes it clear that a president’s job is to faithfully execute the laws; in my view, the president has not faithfully executed the laws,” Mr. Boehner told reporters. “And when there’s conflicts like this between the legislative branch and the administrative branch, it’s, in my view, our responsibility to stand up for this institution in which we serve.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called Mr. Boehner’s move “subterfuge,” and White House press secretary Josh Earnest said, ”I“it seems that Republicans have shifted their opposition into a higher gear.”
“Frankly, it’s a gear that I didn’t know previously existed,” Mr. Earnest said. “The fact that they are considering a taxpayer-funded lawsuit against the president of the United States for doing his job, I think, is the kind of step that most Americans wouldn’t support.”
Mr. Boehner said the bill would allow the House to file suit through the House general counsel and at the direction of the chamber’s Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group. In 2011, Mr. Boehner convened the group after the White House decided that it would stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevented same-sex couples who were married under their state’s laws from receiving federal marriage benefits. The House eventually spent $2.3 million defending that law, but the Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional last year.
The speaker did not specify which executive actions he planned to challenge. House Republicans were angered in January when Mr. Obama promised in his State of the Union address to use his “pen and phone” to counter congressional inaction.
The president has used his executive authority to carry out key elements of his second-term agenda, such as halting the deportation of young illegal immigrants brought to the country by their parents as children, raising the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors and allowing the Environmental Protection Agency to curb carbon emissions from coal plants.
Mr. Boehner said the lawsuit would not be a prelude to impeachment proceedings and was not an attempt to rally the Republican base before the midterm elections. “I believe the House must act as an institution to defend the constitutional principles at stake and to protect our system of government and our economy from continued executive abuse,” he said in the letter. “The president has an obligation to faithfully execute the laws of our country.” The nation did not elect “a monarch or king,” he added.
A House lawsuit against Mr. Obama would face legal obstacles before any definitive ruling on the merits. The House would need to establish that it has the standing to bring the case, which usually requires showing that the plaintiffs have suffered a specific personal injury.
Courts have also generally been reluctant to intervene in separation-of-powers disputes between the executive and legislative branches of government, preferring to let them work out such questions using constitutional tools, such as lawmakers’ power of the purse.United States - North America - United States government - Barack Obama - United States Congress - John Boehner - United States House of Representatives - Allen West - Josh Earnest - Louis Barletta - Steve Israel