Roll Call: Boehner Weighs House Lawsuit Against Obama, Could Come This Week

Speaker of the House John Boehner arrives at the Capitol

For Roll Call, Daniel Newhauser reports: The lawsuit could set up a significant test of constitutional checks and balances, with the legislative branch suing the executive branch for ignoring its mandates, and the judiciary branch deciding the outcome.

Boehner told the House Republican Conference during a closed-door meeting Tuesday morning that he has been consulting with legal scholars and plans to unveil his next steps this week or next, according to sources in the room.boehner-vertical

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said further action is necessary because the Senate has not taken up bills passed by the House targeting executive actions. The House has passed a bill expediting court consideration of House resolutions starting lawsuits targeting executive overreach and another mandating that the attorney general notify Congress when the administration decides to take executive action outside of what has been authorized by Congress.

“The president has a clear record of ignoring the American people’s elected representatives and exceeding his constitutional authority, which has dangerous implications for both our system of government and our economy,” Steel said. “The House has passed legislation to address this, but it has gone nowhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate, so we are examining other options.”

It remains unclear which executive action or actions the House would challenge, but Obama has given Congress ample targets. In the last several years, he has issued executive actions halting deportations of hundreds of thousands of immigrants who came to the country as children, extending the family and medical leave benefits to gay couples and raising the minimum wage for federal contractors. He has also worked around legislative deadlines for enacting provisions of the Affordable Care Act and issued other executive actions relating to the environment and the gender and race pay gap.

Obama has said he takes executive action because of a divided Congress’ inability to pass laws targeting important issues of the day. Congressional Republicans contend such actions are unconstitutional and thwart Congress’ power.

But individual members of Congress do not have standing to sue because they are not legally recognized as injured parties. Congress as an institution, on the other hand, may sue on the grounds that there has been institutional injury done because their legislative powers have been nullified.

One path Boehner could take would be to convene the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, a panel of leaders created in 1993 that votes on whether or not to sue on behalf of the House. The group consists of the speaker, the majority leader, the majority whip, the minority leader and the minority whip, and it would act on a majority vote…(read more)

Roll Call



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