House lawmakers, led by their Republican contingent, opened the gates Wednesday for Speaker John Boehner to sue President Barack Obama for allegedly abusing his executive authority by circumnavigating Congress and the Constitution. The vote on the resolution for Speaker Boehner’s lawsuit to proceed against President Obama won 225 to 201.
Exactly zero Democrats voted for Boehner’s suit against the POTUS and five Republicans also voted thumbs down for the resolution, reports CNN.
Leading up to congressional midterms in the fall, the vote ratcheted up the political tension between Republicans and Democrats, Boehner’s lawsuit including a continued aim at shooting down Obama’s signature ACA health care law.
Republicans and Boehner contend that Obama’s making executive orders to have his way on several different issues broke the law by bypassing Congress. They also believe that illustrating how Obama moved the Affordable Care act unconstitutionally forward is their best bet for making their case.
According to The Wall Street Journal, as the time for the vote approached, Speaker Boehner said Congress had an obligation under the Constitution to fight the type of executive overreach they believe President Obama engaged in:
“This isn’t about Republicans and Democrats. It’s about defending the Constitution we swore an oath to uphold,” said Speaker Boehner.
President Obama, meanwhile, before a more supportive crowd in Kansas City, said before the vote that his political enemies were totally out of line for suing him, and that Boehner and company were doing a disservice to the country:
“Everybody recognizes this is a political stunt,” said President Obama of Boehner’s pending lawsuit. “But it’s worse than that, because every vote they’re taking like that means a vote they’re not taking to actually help you.”
As for what type of impact Boehner’s pursuing the lawsuit will have, no one seems to be sure. How it might unfold is also as much of a mystery as Boehner’s tan, with unknown obstacles likely to loom up.
Legal questions about Boehner’s pending suit include how the House can sue the White House without including the Senate.
Tara Grove, law professor at the College of William and Mary, points out that courts have a history of staying away from any kind of arbitration involving political disputes between the executive and legislative branches.
“We’re in uncharted waters, and I think any judicial court would want to avoid weighing in,” said Ms. Grove. “I’d be very surprised if the court grants standing.”
Those in favor of Boehner’s suit, however, say there is precedent for the legislative branch to sue the executive. They also think lawmakers suffered when the White House’s took away their constitutional authority to legislate.
While both parties will probably try to use the John Boehner suit for political gain during the upcoming campaign season, Republicans in particular will likely use it to underline their assertions regarding Obama’s executive overreaching on issues like Obamacare and immigration. Republicans also might use it to show their base that they’re all in.
“While there is at least one political branch willing to enforce the law, we will not fail to act through whatever means of which we can successfully avail ourselves,” said the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte from Virginia, during floor debate.
As far as Democrats are concerned, however, the Boehner lawsuit just shows that all the Republicans care about is attacking President Obama, not doing the work they were elected to do.
“While it was intended to rev up their base, it has had the unintended consequence of revving up ours,” said Rep. Steve Israel, a Democrat from New York who runs the House Democrats’ campaign arm.
Democrats also say that the Boehner lawsuit is a prelude to an Obama impeachment effort. But Boehner says this notion is poppycock:
“They are trying to rally their people to give money and show up in this year’s election,” said Boehner.