House Votes for Boehner to Lawyer Up and Sue Obama

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
July 30 2014 8:35 PM

House Votes for Boehner to Lawyer Up and Sue Obama

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...or we'll sue.

Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages

While Republicans can’t seem to decide if they ever actually wanted to impeach President Obama in the first place, one thing they are sure of: They want to sue him. Really badly. On Wednesday, the House approved a GOP plan to launch a lawsuit aimed at Obama for allegedly overstepping his constitutional authority as president. The vote was, unsurprisingly, split along party lines—225 to 201—with all but five Republicans supporting the plan and zero Democrats thinking it was a good idea to sue the leader of their party.

The source of Republican anger remains constant—Obamacare. Still peeved over the health care law, "House GOP leaders have said they would focus the suit on the White House's decision last year to give employers a one-year reprieve on enforcing a requirement under the Affordable Care Act that they offer health coverage or pay a penalty,” the Wall Street Journal reports. "Everybody recognizes this is a political stunt," Obama said of the suit at a rally on Wednesday.

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Congress suing the president is not something that happens everyday in American politics, but it’s not unheard of. “In 2008, a federal judge backed a suit by Democrats who then controlled the House and were trying to force the Bush administration to honor House subpoenas of senior White House officials,” according to the Associated Press. “Though the House won the first round in court, that decision was under appeal when a settlement was reached and the lawsuit was dropped.”

Here’s more from the Journal on what an attempt to sue Obama may, or may not, mean.

The legal and political fallout from the decision to pursue the lawsuit remains largely unclear. Many legal experts have questioned whether the courts would take up such a suit, suggesting that lawyers representing the House could face significant hurdles. A court could question whether the House has met the standard of showing that it has been harmed by the president's actions, particularly because lawmakers are suing him for not enforcing a law they have repeatedly sought to repeal. Another question is whether the House, in acting without the Senate, has standing to sue the White House.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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