John Boehner Plans To Sue President Obama Over Executive Orders, Because Of Course
You probably didn't expect this one — Speaker of the House John Boehner is planning to sue President Obama over the president's use of executive orders. Boehner reportedly revealed the plan to House Republicans Tuesday, telling them he'd announce in the following days whether the lawsuit would be moving forward. After seeking counsel from some legal minds, according to Roll Call, he seems to have made up his mind — he announced his intention to sue Obama Wednesday, taking up the most direct Congressional challenge to executive powers in recent memory.
While the specific executive orders Boehner might challenge aren't yet known, it's not hard to guess. Congressional Republicans have been apoplectic over the assertiveness with which Obama has used executive power, first and foremost in delaying the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act.
The criticism goes like this: there was a law on the books, with specific timelines laid out, and the President decided to delay them, an illegal abuse of his authority. How you feel about that argument seems to break down pretty heavily along partisan lines, but suffice it to say that it's a worthy question, though nowhere near as obviously answered as the GOP asserts.
There's also an obvious bad-faith element in all this. The GOP is more or less completely opposed to the Affordable Care Act, and would love nothing more than to see the whole thing, mandate included, collapse under its own weight. As such, you'd think a postponement for medium-sized businesses would be welcomed, but since that delay might benefit the long-term success of the law — something the GOP rightly fears — it would've likely been impossible to move through Congress.
That same congressional intractability, in fact, underpins much of why Boehner may have a lawsuit on his hands. President Obama's State of the Union call for 2014 to be a "year of action," even if he had to force that action by testing his executive authority, was not a decision he came to frivolously or quickly.
He's been dealing with basically the most gridlocked congress in American history, and did so for a full six years with an at-times startling confidence that things would start to turn around in a bipartisan way — that the Republican "fever" would break, as Vice President Biden put it, after the pair won reelection in 2012.
But they underestimated the Republicans' devotion to their opposition strategy — a strategy which, given a goal of minimizing the impact of a two-term Democratic Presidency at all costs, has certainly paid off. It will have paid off all the more, of course, if Boehner's lawsuit goes through, and if it actually managed to take a chunk out of Obama.
The GOP should be wary of painting themselves into a legal corner so late in Obama's tenure, though — their last President was pretty fond of executive orders himself.