For the last few weeks, Speaker of the House John Boehner has been threatening to sue President Obama for overstepping the limits of executive authority. Boehner was initially vague about the details, but now he has come up with some specifics. As lame-brained as Boehner's lawsuit threat has seemed, it now has gotten even more idiotic.
Despite executive orders on everything from immigration, to the environment, to the minimum wage for federal workers, Boehner has finally made his choice. It all comes down to the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
On behalf of the House of Representatives, Boehner is suing the president for not only doing his job, but for doing what House Republicans wanted him to do. On Thursday night, Boehner released a draft resolution saying his lawsuit will focus on the president's “serious offense” of making changes to the Affordable Care Act. Boehner claims that Obama violated the constitution when he delayed the health law's mandate for businesses without getting permission from Congress first. The House Republicans are now ready to sue the president over delaying that employer mandate, the same hypocritical Republicans who voted to delay the mandate a year ago.
Boehner is continuing his tradition of shooting himself in the foot. He wants to please the Tea Party extremists, placate the party moderates and keep his position as Speaker. But this could prove to be a really dumb move on his part, and it will most likely impact the party adversely. More problematic then spending taxpayer money suing the president over something they agree with on principle is the fact that their latest assault on the Affordable Care Act comes amongst the strongest evidence yet that the health law is working and that people like it, including Republicans. In fact, three out of four Republicans say they are satisfied with their health plans, almost as many as Democrats.
The timing of this renewed fight against the Affordable Care Act is strange indeed. Suing a president for a move you wanted him to make in the first place is confounding enough. If he doesn't reign in his party, Speaker Boehner may find himself out of his leadership position. And suing the president over a law that the Republicans tried more than 50 times to repeal and failed is more than likely going to give a big public relations boost to the Democrats.
So why a lawsuit and not impeachment? Sarah Palin has gone on a Facebook rant demanding that President Obama be impeached. Boehner disagreed, and John McCain, the man who unleashed Palin on an unsuspecting public, said Thursday: “There are not the votes here in the United States Senate to impeach the president of the United States and I think that we should focus our attention on winning elections.”
McCain was right, and pretty much everyone except Palin agrees. The question, then, is why a lawsuit? The courts have routinely rejected court cases where there were political disputes between the legislative and executive branches. The legislative and executive branches are supposed to be designed to work these things out themselves.
Boehner, who has in the past refused to stand up to his party's birthers and Obama-is-a-Muslim wingnuts, said “It's not my job to tell the American people what to think,” in 2011 after being elected speaker. Now he is on a crusade to tell the American people to think that Obama is abusing his powers. Obama has called Boehner's lawsuit a “stunt”.
No one has come up with a single lawsuit in American history that is of close precedent to what they are proposing. Call it what you want: the media has dubbed it impeachment lite. Some have called it impeachment for cowards. Instead of uniting the party, Boehner's stunt is likely to crash and burn.
The media is covering this nonsense as if it's a legitimate story, but as the new White House lawyer Neil Eggleston said recently, “As I used to tell clients in private practice, anybody can sue anybody over anything.”
This lawsuit is a joke. Boehner is grasping at straws, desperate for anything to keep his party from imploding. It won't work. The American people want Congress to work on issues that can help them, and not bring a lawsuit against something that is already helping them.
So what does Boehner expect to accomplish by all this? Either he thinks the lawsuit has merit, which makes him incredibly naïve if not flat out stupid, or he realizes it's just political theater, and he thinks he can keep Republicans happy and keep his job.
A quick Google search of Boehner shows he never went to law school. Maybe he should pick up a copy of Lawsuits for Dummies. Oh wait! There's no chapter about suing the president for doing his job.