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John Boehner Will Initiate a Lawsuit Against President Obama John Boehner Will Initiate a Lawsuit Against President Obama

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Congress

John Boehner Will Initiate a Lawsuit Against President Obama

Executive actions would be at the heart of the action.

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

photo of Elahe Izadi
June 25, 2014

House Speaker John Boehner told reporters Wednesday that he's planning to start a lawsuit against President Obama and his administration over the White House's use of executive actions.

"The Constitution makes it clear that it's the president's job to faithfully execute the laws, and, in my view, the president hasn't faithfully executed the laws," Boehner said.

Boehner on Suing the President

 

News that Boehner was considering a lawsuit was first reported by Roll Call on Tuesday. The speaker declined to elaborate which particular executive actions would be at the heart of such a lawsuit, saying, "When I make that decision, I'll let you know."

A number of House Republicans have been calling for such a move over what they deem are impeachable offenses. When asked whether this lawsuit could lead to impeachment proceedings, Boehner said, "This is not about impeachment."

Boehner circulated a memo to House colleagues on Wednesday explaining his reasoning. "On one matter after another during his presidency, President Obama has circumvented the Congress through executive action, creating his own laws and excusing himself from executing statutes he is sworn to enforce – at times even boasting about his willingness to do it, as if daring the America people to stop him," he wrote.

In the letter, the speaker wrote that the Obama administration's executive actions could create a precedent that would shift "the balance of power decisively and dangerously in favor of the presidency, giving the president king-like authority at the expense of the American people and their elected legislators."

For months, Republicans have been critical of the president's executive actions on everything from tweaking the Affordable Care Act implementation to immigration, such as Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals.

This year, the president promised to devote more attention to actions the executive branch can take without Congress. Obama has also been under pressure from the left on deportations, which led the president to direct Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to initiate a review and potential changes to the way the administration enforces deportation policy to make it more "humane." Results of that review are expected after August.

The administration had likewise been pressured by LGBT advocates to take executive action related to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, in light of inaction from Congress, that would apply to federal contractors. Obama ended up signing such an executive order this month.

Boehner plans on bringing legislation to the floor in July that would authorize the House, via the House General Counsel and the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, to file a suit "in an effort to compel the president to follow his oath of office and faithfully execute the laws of our country." BLAG rules by majority vote and is comprised of the speaker, the House majority and minority leaders, and the majority and minority whips (meaning, three Republicans and two Democrats). That's the same group the Republican leadership used to (unsuccessfully) defend the Defense of Marriage Act, for a price tag of $2.3 million.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called this latest effort by Boehner "subterfuge" and criticized Republican leadership for spending money to defend DOMA.

"They knew it was unconstitutional. But they were doing their politics and they were spending the taxpayers' money, a waste," Pelosi said. "And here we go again.

This story has been updated with information from Speaker Boehner's memo. A previous version of this story also misstated a prior BLAG action.

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