The Republican House has finally filed its long-awaited lawsuit against President Obama over his use of executive authority. This comes less than a day after Obama announced his intention to extend protections for as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants through executive action. The lawsuit, however, is all about the Affordable Care Act, and his use of executive orders to do things like delay the employer mandate. To say the least, we are confused.
We could speculate that they filed the existing suit for the sole purpose of doing something quickly. Drawing up legislation for a whole new lawsuit against Obama, or broadening the existing suit to include more of the President’s executive orders, might just take a little too long. The Republicans have a mandate to stop Obama at all costs right now, you see.
One ironic thing about this is that Boehner filed the lawsuit against Obama, over the ACA, and then, one whole day later, said that there were things Obama could do on immigration that didn’t require Congressional approval, according to Think Progress. It was almost as if Boehner said that so they could leave for their August recess without lifting a finger to do anything about immigration reform.
How does a President even do that without Congressional approval, though? He does it through executive orders. But, since Obama didn’t do what the Republicans wanted him to do with those orders (which was stop the flow of children from Central America into the U.S.), now they’re mad, so they’re claiming more executive overreach, making more cracks about The Emperor, and so on.
That still doesn’t explain this lawsuit, though. If the point of this is to let Obama know that he’s definitely overstepped his legal bounds, then suing over Obamacare, when the issue of the moment is immigration, makes no sense. The very first paragraph of the lawsuit against Obama says:
“This case arises out of unconstitutional and unlawful actions taken by the Administration of President Barack Obama (the ‘Administration’) in respect of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act […] In challenging these actions, this case addresses fundamental issues regarding the limits of Executive power under our constitutional form of government, and the continued viability of the separation of powers doctrine upon which ‘the whole American fabric has been erected.'” [emphasis mine]
One does have to ask why Congress never sued a president for executive action before, since they’re so keen on getting this lawsuit against Obama through. The answer is obvious (because it’s this president), but Congressional Republicans need to actually answer it out loud. Here’s why: All anybody has to do is look at this chart in the National Archives to see that executive orders are nothing new. Since Ford, every president has issued anywhere from 150 to 300 or so executive orders. Before Ford, they were even more commonplace.
That’s somewhat beside the point, though. Back to this ridiculous lawsuit against Obama. According to Steve Benen, who writes on Rachel Maddow’s blog on MSNBC, two separate law firms dropped the suit before the House found Jonathan Turley to handle it. TWO. That suggests that lawyers don’t see much chance for success in this.
Plus, again, suing over Obamacare when the issue of the day is immigration makes no sense unless the Republicans are desperate. They shouldn’t be, because as many have pointed out, here and elsewhere, Republicans hold all the cards. If they don’t like executive orders, they can pass bills. Obama said he would sign an immigration reform bill if it came across his desk. If they think he’s lying, they could force his hand by passing an immigration bill. A veto would make it so they could say that Obama broke a promise and isn’t playing nice. A signature would make it look like everyone’s trying to resolve their differences and work towards making this country a better place.
Instead, they’ll waste taxpayer dollars by filing this ridiculous lawsuit against Obama, over Obamacare, which doesn’t address their problems with his immigration order.
Featured image by Pete Souza. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons