Why Boehner's Plan to Sue Obama Won't Work

'Good luck with that,' say legal experts
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 26, 2014 3:17 AM CDT
Updated Jun 26, 2014 6:33 AM CDT
Could Boehner Really Sue Obama?
Speaker of the House John Boehner meets with with reporters yesterday.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

John Boehner has declared that he wants to sue President Obama for abusing his executive authority, but most legal experts seem to think he's about as likely to prevail as he is to become the 2016 Democratic nominee. For starters, the House speaker plans to use legislation to gain authorization to sue—legislation that would need to be passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by the president, the Christian Science Monitor notes. "Good luck with that," says a constitutional scholar at Yale Law School. The plaintiff would also need to make specific charges in order to sue, but Boehner accuses the president of doing an end-run around "the American people and their elected legislators on "matters ranging from health care and energy to foreign policy and education."

Even some conservative scholars believe House lawmakers have no legal standing for the suit—and if they did succeed, President Obama would be out of office long before the case had finished working its way through the courts, notes Dana Milbank at the Washington Post, who believes the real source of the problem with expanding executive power is "congressional dysfunction"—which could be fixed by compromises, not lawsuits. Critics call the threat of a lawsuit political posturing aimed at pleasing the GOP base ahead of midterm elections, NBC notes, and some legal experts agree. "The whole memo is remarkably non-specific. That suggests it's meant more as political propaganda," a Georgetown law professor says upon reviewing Boehner's memo telling members a lawsuit would compel Obama to "faithfully execute the laws of our country." (Read more John Boehner stories.)

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