Michele Bachmann Wants to Sue Obama Over His State of the Union Speech

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) (C) heads for a House Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol October 4, 2013 in Washington, DC.
National Journal
Jan. 28, 2014, 5:48 p.m.

Rep. Michele Bach­mann did not re­act kindly to Pres­id­ent Obama’s in­sist­ence that he will act uni­lat­er­ally on a num­ber of is­sues, threat­en­ing to sue him.

“If he wants to move for­ward with this uni­lat­er­al activ­ity, he bet­ter be pre­pared for the law­suit that the United States Con­gress will bring to him,” she said in re­sponse to Obama’s State of the Uni­on ad­dress Tues­day. “He may think he’s king, he may de­clare he’s a king, but that’s not what he is un­der the con­sti­tu­tion,” Bach­mann ad­ded.

Rep. Steve King echoed Bach­mann’s com­ments, not­ing that Obama has already over­stepped the bounds of the ex­ec­ut­ive branch. As an ex­ample, sev­er­al con­ser­vat­ives cited Obama’s 2012 re­cess ap­point­ments to the Na­tion­al Labor Re­la­tions Board, which are cur­rently un­der re­view by the Su­preme Court.

“He knows what he’s say­ing. He wouldn’t have to re­mind Con­gress, ‘I’m go­ing to use all my real ex­ec­ut­ive au­thor­ity,’ that wouldn’t be in the speech. What he’s say­ing is, ‘I’m go­ing to use some of your au­thor­ity.’ So I agree with her that we need to take him to court,” King said.

In ad­di­tion to a law­suit, King pro­posed bring­ing a res­ol­u­tion to the floor of the House form­ally dis­ap­prov­ing of Obama’s ac­tions “that lists all of his con­sti­tu­tion­al vi­ol­a­tions, or at least the clearest ones — there are very many, I don’t know that if we’d ever get to all,” he said.

King said he hoped that a law­suit — which could take a while — as well as the form­al res­ol­u­tion would en­cour­age Obama to cease tak­ing ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tions without con­gres­sion­al ap­prov­al. “If the dis­ap­prov­al of Con­gress can’t do that, then we have to start look­ing at oth­er steps,” he said.

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., did ad­mit that Obama does have sev­er­al ex­ec­ut­ive powers that he can ex­er­cise without con­gres­sion­al ap­prov­al. “The prob­lem is, they don’t out­last their pres­id­ents,” Cole said. “So if you want to go write on the sand in the beach, that’s great, but the tide will come in.”

If such a law­suit went for­ward, it would not be the first time mem­bers of Con­gress sued the pres­id­ent. Former Rep. Den­nis Ku­cinich, D-Ohio, sued Obama over mil­it­ary op­er­a­tions in Libya, for ex­ample. But, thanks to the sep­ar­a­tion of powers, such suits are of­ten dis­missed for lack of stand­ing.

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