By: Sam Rolley
Democrats have widely dismissed House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) announcement that he plans to file a lawsuit against President Barack Obama for misuse of executive orders. But many Americans believe that Boehner may have a real case against the President, especially after the Supreme Court delivered a ruling Thursday against Obama Administration efforts to expand executive power.
The Supreme Court’s nine Justices ruled that the three so-called recess appointments the President made to the National Labor Relations Board in 2012, as Congress conducted pro forma sessions every three days to avoid going into recess, were unConstitutional.
The ruling serves as a point of vindication for members of the GOP who have claimed that Obama’s unilateral actions in defiance of Congress in making the appointment and with regard to various other matters illustrate the Administration’s utter disregard for the Constitution.
“Today, the Supreme Court invalidated President Obama’s unlawful abuse of the President’s recess appointments power. President Obama ignored the plain text of the Constitution and attempted to make unilateral recess appointments — circumventing the checks and balances of confirmation — when the Senate was not, in fact, in recess,” Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz said after the ruling was handed down. “Today, a unanimous Court rightly rejected that presidential abuse of power.”
Cruz added, “This marks the twelfth time since January 2012 that the Supreme Court has unanimously rejected the Obama Administration’s calls for greater federal executive power.”
In April 2013, when the tally of unanimous Supreme Court rulings against the Administration sat at nine, Cruz issued a report detailing what the Nation would look like had Obama gotten his way in court.
“If the Department of Justice had won these cases, the federal government would be able to electronically track all of our movements, fine us without a fair hearing, dictate who churches choose as ministers, displace state laws based on the president’s whims, bring debilitating lawsuits against individuals based on events that occurred years ago, and destroy a person’s private property without just compensation,” he wrote at the time.
For the time being, the Senate has rendered moot the recess appointment issue at the center of the Thursday ruling because of a rule change that allows for nominee confirmations with a majority vote. However, the decision serves as a censure of Obama’s view of Presidential power; and that is paramount.
The ruling also gives Boehner’s forthcoming lawsuit traction that his Congressional critics on the left hadn’t anticipated.
“The Constitution makes it clear that a president’s job is to faithfully execute the laws. In my view, the president has not faithfully executed the laws,” the House Speaker said, announcing his intentions on Wednesday. “When there are conflicts like this between the legislative branch and the administrative branch, it’s… our responsibility to stand up for this institution.”
In a memo sent to fellow Republicans, Boehner said that he will challenge the “king-like authority” Obama has exerted by issuing executive orders to enact policies affecting healthcare, energy, education, foreign policy and other matters of national importance. Boehner didn’t provide a list of specific executive orders that he plans to challenge, but told lawmakers that he plans to bring legislation on the matter to the floor in July once the Rules Committee has reviewed the plan.
The House Speaker said that the main point of the lawsuit is protecting the balance of government powers, as set forth in the Constitution.
“What we’ve seen clearly over the last five years is an effort to erode the power of the legislative branch,” Boehner said. “On behalf of the institution and the Constitution, standing up and fighting for this is the best long-term interest of the Congress.”
The House General Counsel and the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, a group of lawmakers that includes whips from both parties and majority and minority leaders, would ultimately bring the suit against the Obama Administration if Boehner’s plan moves forward.
Democrats have responded to Boehner’s plan with familiar groans, accusing the GOP of baseless criticism of the Administration and insinuating that the lawsuit is the precursor to a fruitless impeachment endeavor.
“In this case it seems that Republicans have shifted their opposition into a higher gear. Frankly, I didn’t know it was a gear that even existed,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday. “They are considering a taxpayer funded lawsuit against the president of the United States for doing his job… [It’s] the kind of step that I think most Americans wouldn’t support.”
But George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley, a noted Obama supporter on many issues, isn’t so sure that the Obama Administration is immune to damning outcomes that could result from the suit.
“I think there is a case against the President for exceeding his authority,” Turley told a baffled MSNBC pundit Wednesday. “I happen to agree with the President on many of his priorities and policies, but as I testified in Congress I think he has crossed the Constitutional line.”
While the professor said that it is difficult to sue a sitting U.S. President, it isn’t impossible. And Obama certainly hasn’t done himself any favors in avoiding the potential legal challenge.
“[W]hen the President went to Congress and said that he was going to go it alone, it obviously raises a concern,” Turley noted. “Because there’s no license for going it alone in our system.”
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