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September 21, 2014

Boehner’s Bet: Lawsuit Will Quiet Impeachment Calls

boehner013 071014 445x307 Boehners Bet: Lawsuit Will Quiet Impeachment Calls

Can Boehner’s lawsuit dampen calls for Obama impeachment? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

More seems curious than straightforward in Speaker John A. Boehner’s current plan for suing President Barack Obama.

But one of the easier things to understand is what the litigation might accomplish inside the House Republican Conference: a cooling of the intensifying and politically problematic talk about how nothing short of impeachment will do.

Legislation to authorize the lawsuit will get its first public hearing on July 16 at the Rules Committee. It’s on course for passage entirely along party lines in two weeks, just before the August recess begins. So it will be toward the end of September, just as Congress is preparing to decamp for the campaign trail, before the House’s lawyers actually take their complaint to the federal courthouse at the foot of Capitol Hill.

That means there’s almost no chance for even a preliminary resolution before the midterm elections. But the schedule will nonetheless provide the infuriated House Republicans several opportunities for venting their bloodlust this summer and fall.

Giving members of the GOP rank and file this way to focus their red meat rhetoric, and their appeals for donations from the hard right, could make calls for impeachment fade, if not quite disappear. And that is what Boehner has made clear he wants.

In this curious way, he is in the same place as his predecessor as speaker, with whom he sees eye-to-eye on next to nothing.But in the previous decade, Nancy Pelosi emphatically drew the line against having her Democratic House move to impeach President George W. Bush — choosing instead to preserve the vestiges of institutional seriousness for the House. That helped her avoid a constitutional showdown and denied her fellow liberal mainstays the most dramatic way possible to express anger at Bush’s launching of the Iraq War under inaccurate pretenses. Pelosi also concluded six summers ago that such a show vote might do her party more damage than good, angering swing voters (and galvanizing the GOP) so much that Democrats might squander their solid lead close to an election.

That seems very much like the calculation Boehner is now making. There will need to be a limit to the House’s formal expression of the passionate disdain that Republicans hold for almost everything to do with the 44th president. And, for reasons of political self-interest as much as deference to the democratic system, the line will be drawn at the Obama lawsuit.

There is no way to prevent some gadfly on the far right from introducing a resolution of impeachment, just as a gadfly on the far left (former Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio) did twice. Such a proposal gets parliamentary privilege under the House rules, which in essence means it’s guaranteed some kind of floor vote. Both times in 2008, all the Democrats including Kucinich voted to refer his measures to the Judiciary Committee — where Pelosi made sure the bills of particulars against Bush were never heard from again.

Such quick and choreographed roll calls are the best outcome that can be expected by those advocating for Obama’s impeachment, who now include such luminaries on the tea-party-right as 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and former Rep. Allen B. West of Florida.

Boehner is betting the conservative clarion callers will be more satisfied by the lawsuit, although initial reaction on the right has not been so hot.

The speaker had signaled he’d push the House to advance litigation alleging Obama had overstepped his executive authority and defied congressional direction on a wide array of fronts, mentioning energy regulations, education standards and foreign policy. Conservatives were pressing him to go further and sweep in some of the president’s more politically popular executive actions, such as raising the minimum wage on federal contracts and granting deportation relief to some immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.

Instead, Boehner now says the lawsuit should focus on a single presidential action, Obama’s delaying the start of the penalties for businesses that don’t provide medical insurance as required by the Affordable Care Act. “In 2013, the president changed the health care law without a vote of Congress, effectively creating his own law by literally waiving the employer mandate,” the speaker said in a statement. “That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work. No president should have the power to make laws on his or her own.”

Making the suit entirely about Obamacare permits the GOP to resurrect a line of attack that had withered in recent months, but still energizes the party’s base as much as anything else. The choice remains odd on several other fronts.

As a matter of political communications, the suit runs the risk of sending a decidedly mixed message. The House is taking Obama to court to make him enforce a law that the House itself is on record wanting to both delay or scratch off the books. Republicans have famously voted for an outright repeal of the ACA dozens of times. And last summer, they passed legislation specifically written to codify the president’s employer mandate delay.

As a matter of law, it’s not easy to see how the House argues successfully that it has standing to bring such a suit. The general rule in a civil case is that plaintiffs must demonstrate they’ve been tangibly harmed by the other side’s actions, and time after time federal judges have said it’s not sufficient for members to claim a loss of political or institutional clout because a president frustrated the will of Congress.

Complicating matters further, the lawsuit will come more than a year after Obama acted, so a judge may wonder what took an outraged House so long. And the presidential postponement of the employer mandate ends with the end of the year, after which a judge may consider the matter moot.

But January is not the month that matters most to Boehner’s team of politically attuned attorneys. November is.

 

Related stories:

House Resolution Authorizes Suing Obama Over Affordable Care Act

White House: Boehner Lawsuit Uses Taxpayer Money Against Obama for ‘Doing His Job’

Boehner Planning House Lawsuit Against Obama Executive Actions

Boehner’s Memo to Members on Obama Lawsuit

Obama Executive Order to Ban LGBT Discrimination

Bergdahl Deal Didn’t Break Law, White House Insists

A Minimum Wage Move With Maximum Confrontational Consequences

Sprint to Power: 10 Days Inside the GOP Leadership Race

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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  • txlakedude

    Hoping the GOP goes full speed with their phoney lawsuit.
    It will, really let the public, the world, and all the boot stepping GOPRobots, see the Repugs smelly dirty laundry, in all it magnificent beauty. Seems they really enjoy, stabbing themselves in the back. Bring it in BoenderIdiot….lol

  • Samsara

    Boehner negotiated and got an Obamacare waver for himself and his staff. What a joke.

  • YONATAN C

    Both the republicans and democrats have forgotten the three million unemployed families STILL without an extension of unemployment benefits, since late last December. Since the republican party’s refusal to pass the bill, these past six months has proven financially disastrous for these families. Many have faced evictions, home foreclosures, bankruptcies, and homelessness. While the republicans fought tooth & nail to pass the Koch brother’s oil pipeline bill, they totally dismissed these unfortunate families. Recently congress approved a billion dollar aid package for the Ukraine, and spending even more money on the defense of Europe, both political parties have walked away from these struggling families all together. We no longer here anything from them or the news media. It’s as if these millions of families disappeared off the face of the earth. It’s a sad commentary on the lack of compassion our government has for our poor and unemployed in this country.

    • AntiMarxist

      Just like we hear nothing about 17 trillion in debt

    • Rita__A

      Yet he is bringing in thousands of people and shelling
      out to them!!!

    • ZenderTranscender

      Does anyone still believe that those politicians care about us? They are indifferent.

  • PosterBoi

    We, I mean WE THE PEOPLE, elected all of these politicians. We have no one to blame but ourselves. Keep on electing the same members of congress and you will always get the same result. It’s OK not to like the president and it’s OK not to like the speaker, but this is an embarrassment to our country. Like it or not, Obama is the president and to deface him and his office is to make us look like clowns to the world. It is as if there were school boys running this place and a kindergarten populace who can do nothing but complain about who we have elected in all offices. Get some maturity and deal with the issues, not the persons involved in decision making. We need agreement, not disagreement. Not liking the president is too late now; so shut up about the job he has done and is doing. It’s not like any other president did any better.

  • mabramso

    Hypothetical situation: Suppose 10 years ago, Bush had said, “This year, we’ll only enforce half of the social security law — I’ll direct the US Treasury to dole out only half the usual amount of social security this month to each recipient.” And if the GOP were united, there is nothing anyone could do about it because impeachment would have failed.

    Now, clearly, this is an extreme case, but Boehner is right about Obama selectively applying the law. It lays the foundation for future tyranny. Granted, the lawsuit is timed as a political calculation, but both Boehner’s actions and the reaction are over-stated. Boehner will almost surely lose in court, and the Democrats’ faux outrage is laughable.

  • Rita__A

    Mr. Boehner, take the funding away, including his vacations, He is in it for one reason, himself!!! He does nothing that is good for the Country!!! It took 5 years for people to wake up, and the damage he can do in the next 3 years could only be destruction.

  • CityShots

    the battle of the future of the republican party is going to be an epic matchup in Cleveland….the tea party in thiscorner…the establishment in the other… Dallas lost the home turf advantage… the populated northeast and central regions will be able to perform an exorcism and extract Cruz and co from their brains…

  • ShadrachSmith

    The First Black President will never be impeached, and he knows it. Obama is simply above the law, he will not be prosecuted for any crimes.

    This Writ of Mandamus – ordering the government official to properly fulfill their official duties – type of civil action at least high-lights the harm done by Obama’s failure to perform his duties. The Republicans are doing that to argue that America would be better off limiting Obama’s power by putting the senate in the hands of Republicans. This is really about focusing attention on the ’14 Senate elections in red states.

    The suit is intended to reduce the enthusiasm of voters in red states to support for the incumbent Democrat senators who support Obama’s lawlessness. The suit may or may not result in Harry Reid losing the gavel. But it is an effective tool to focus the attention of red state voters on the Republican’s argument that Obama would be less harmful to America if Harry Reid did not control the Senate.

  • Hal Burton

    In some related video we find even more lies from Hussein Obama: http://youtu.be/GMJ01s32uxQ

  • One Thirsty Bear

    Compassion? In this article we find out more regarding the Obama regime’s attacks upon a citizen with Stage 4 cancer: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2487518/Stage-4-cancer-sufferer-unhappy-Obamacare-gets-White-House-pushback.html

  • spbigger

    This law suit is a pretty weak response to ole Obummer. Why is it that our congress and senate are not willing to put a stop to our country’s downward slide. We have to find a way to stop the bleeding before it is too late.

    • Republicans_are_Evil

      Here we witness yet another right winger parroting childish nicknames for our President. This lack of respect shown to the man is very unpatriotic. This is why right wingers are not fit to lead this country. They only love America when they are in power.

  • spbigger

    Looks like we all have opinions.. The left ones resemble those of Obummer.

    • Republicans_are_Evil

      This right winger is still parroting childish nicknames for our President. Such a lack of patriotism.

  • Yonatan YONATAN

    Senator John Boehner, and his republican cohorts in the senate, are directly responsible for the three million unemployed families, STILL without an extension of benefits since late last December. They have single handedly pushed these families into further financial ruin and deep poverty, over these last six months, without an extension bill. While they fought vigorously on behalf of the Koch brother’s oil pipeline bill, they totally disregarded the suffering of these families. While congress approved billions of dollars in aid for the Ukraine, and more money set aside for the defense of Europe, these American families were left hung out to dry. Recently more money is requested to support the illegal migrant children pouring undisrupted into our country, at the border. The president is planning on assisting these children with tax payer’s dollars. While this is commemorated, what about the three million unemployed Americans that have been forgotten about, who are still in a desperate financial situation, in our own country? Why are our poor and unemployed never a priority to our own government?

  • Yonatan YONATAN

    Senator John Boehner, and his republican cohorts in the senate, are directly responsible for the three million unemployed families, STILL without an extension of benefits since late last December. They have single handedly pushed these families into further financial ruin and deep poverty, over these last six months, without an extension bill. While they fought vigorously on behalf of the Koch brother’s oil pipeline bill, they totally disregarded the suffering of these families. While congress approved billions of dollars in aid for the Ukraine, and more money set aside for the defense of Europe, these American families were left hung out to dry. Recently more money is requested to support the illegal migrant children pouring undisrupted into our country, at the border. The president is planning on assisting these children with tax payer’s dollars. While this is commemorated, what about the three million unemployed Americans that have been forgotten about, who are still in a desperate financial situation, in our own country? Why are our poor and unemployed never a priority to our own government? It’s sad and appalling.

  • Water Dude

    The sheer audacity of Hussein Obama’s fraud is yet to be fully recognized.

  • White Army

    When Hussein Obama entered the White House, 60.6 percent of working age Americans had a job. Today, only 58.7 percent of working age Americans have a job. Reference: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-08-21/33-shocking-facts-which-show-how-badly-economy-has-tanked-under-obama

    • daddyoyo

      Sorry. Your link is a year out of date. Try to keep up.
      bonddad.blogspot.com/2014/07/june-2014-jobs-report-excellent.html
      bonddad.blogspot.com/2014/06/the-three-data-points-ill-be-watching.html

  • ZenderTranscender

    My preference is to see Obama resign, but that won’t happen.
    From reading between the lines, it’s Biden who has made important connections between the parties during times in which things have actually gotten accomplished. Obama is passive-aggressive and has no clue how to make this happen. I think impeachments and law suits are damaging to the country and that Boehner is simply trying to balance the silly side of the party (Tea Party) with the grown-up side (traditionals who aren’t rabid conservatives).

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