The Farce of a Boehner Lawsuit Against President Obama

John Boehner, current Speaker of the House of Representatives, has been threatening to file a lawsuit against President Obama and the Obama Administration for weeks now.  Just today, it was announced that Boehner plans to sue President Obama for delaying the Employer Mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. In other words, Boehner plans to sue President Obama for not enacting Obamacare fast enough. This is the same Obamacare that the House of Representatives has voted over 50 times to repeal. Now, not only do House Republicans want Obamacare, they want it now, and they want it badly enough that they will sue for it. Read that again; I'll wait.

It's not clear what the lawsuit's aggrieved issues will be or the intended remedy, because Boehner is taking a wet noodle approach to it all: let's throw a bunch of stuff at the intransigent wall of conservatives and see what sticks.  What could the relief or remedy be? You can't sue to have the President removed from office. You also can't sue to have the President pass specific laws (remember, that's the job of Congress) or work with Congress more (hasn't he tried?). There is also the thorny issue of this being a Political Question. The Political Question Doctrine basically says there are some issues so political that courts shouldn't weigh in. It's a political question, but not really a legal one, so the court has no jurisdiction to decide the question. That seems the case here. If Boehner brings a lawsuit and the judge decides it's a political question, the case is dismissed, which would be a damning blow that he does not want. So what's the point? Money. 


Here is why Boehner will never file a lawsuit against President Obama. This is all a publicity stunt to raise money for mid-term elections. This "lawsuit" is a great way to galvanize conservatives around the country & say "President Obama hasn't done anything, send us money so we can win." But Boehner never gave a timetable for filing this "lawsuit." This means he can milk this farce through November, which is smart. But it will never happen. After November, there will be another bright, shiny object to distract conservatives from reality.

The second reason Boehner will never file a lawsuit is because it gives President Obama an opportunity to respond. To detail his achievements as a response to the claim that he has done nothing. Boehner doesn't want that. A lawsuit will mean President Obama can put on record, a legal document, everything he has accomplished as a way to disprove Boehner's claims of Obama Administration inaction. That's why Boehner won't file this lawsuit. In addition, a "lawsuit" will also give President Obama an opportunity to file a counter-claim. In other words, President Obama can say, "I've done X. And you, sir?" the way Oprah famously did on Twitter. Then the tables will be turned and Boehner will be forced to show all that Congress has done. Or not done. A lawsuit will not only give President Obama an opportunity to show what he has done, but also how Congress (the "plaintiff") has obstructed him in the process. Further, as the President pointed out today, Congress works for us. So guess who would actually foot the bill of a lawsuit filed by one branch of the government against the other? If you answered the taxpayers, including those who rail against big government, you get a gold star.

Lawyers file lawsuits they think they can win or that they know they may lose but will be able to prove a point in the process. Neither of those ideals apply to Boehner here. The fallout from their base if conservatives lose this suit will be tremendous. This is yet another reason why Boehner won't file before the 2014 mid-term elections. Don't you think Attorney General Eric Holder & the Solicitor General are waiting for this lawsuit? Can you imagine the satisfaction at being able to respond? This is why President Obama has been egging conservatives on with his "so sue me" line that has picked up steam on Twitter. He's calling their bluff. Never forget: President Obama is a constitutional law scholar. He knows he's on firm ground.

See this "lawsuit" for what it is: A ploy of conservatives to raise money for the 2014 mid-term elections. It is not an actual threat. It never was. Boehner would never risk taking the power from a future Republican president by going through with a lawsuit against a Democratic one, establishing a horrible precedent. Although this is a pretty obvious stunt that will probably not fool many wealthy conservative donors, Joe Patriot who has an extra $50 may be more easily swayed. So far, the threat of the lawsuit has been a boon for liberals. Democrats have indicated that hundreds of thousands of dollars have been donated since Boehner's threats began.  


Never forget Schoolhouse Rock and its explanation of the separation of powers and the three branches of government. Why is the legislative branch (Boehner and Congress) going after the executive branch (the Obama Administration) through the judicial branch (the federal courts)? Because the legislative branch knows that it doesn't have the power to do anything significant to attempt to "hold President Obama accountable" in its own branch. It's that simple.


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