House May Pointlessly Sue Obama


Republicans are throwing a fit over President Obama saying he’ll take some vague and unspecified unilateral action to address vague and unspecified problems and Michele Bachmann says that the House of Representatives may try to take him to court over it. Yeah, good luck with that.

In reality, the only actual executive order to come out of the State of the Union speech was the one pertaining to the minimum wage on government contracts, which clearly falls within his executive authority. But cue the freakout anyway.

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann says House conservatives are preparing to sue President Barack Obama for executive overreach in response to his threats of unilateral action on a host of issues.

“He’s the president of the United States — he’s not a king,” the Republican lawmaker told reporters after Obama’s State of the Union address. “He may think he’s a king, he may declare himself king, but that’s not what he is under our Constitution.”

Bachmann said an effort is underway in Congress to take back their “authority under the Constitution as the House of Representatives.” She said the plan is to introduce legislation allowing lawmakers to hire an attorney, so “we can force the president to act under the Constitution.”

And maybe if Bachmann had gotten a law degree from a real law school, she would know that this is almost certainly doomed to failure. Congress almost never has standing to sue the president. The controlling precedent is Raines v. Byrd. The courts are very reluctant to get involved in disputes between the other two branches of government and for good reason. Ten members of Congress tried to sue Obama over his bombing of Libya three years ago but the case was dismissed on standing grounds, which is how this one would end as well.

Comments

  1. says

    Ed:

    Shame on you. There is well established precedence for this. They’ve been pointlessly trying to overturn the ACA–over 40 times, to date.

  2. tuibguy says

    Anyone who has standing in this issue would be forced to write a plea admitting they are gigantic douches.

  3. lanir says

    So… Bombings-as-assassination is fine, aiming said bombings at American citizens with no review is fine*, institutionalized and blatantly illegal Big Brother style spying is fine but OMG, someone might get paid a living wage! To the BatShitCrazy-mobile!

    * To be clear, I don’t think nationality is an acceptable excuse for killing anyone. But the other side can be a bit thick so sometimes you have to point out not-too-subtly that “this could be you”.

  4. eric says

    Bachmann said an effort is underway in Congress to take back their “authority under the Constitution as the House of Representatives.”

    If only they would! It would be nice to live in a US where Congress prevents the president from sending US troops to be killed until they formally declare war on a country or group. It would be nice if they actually passed a budget rather than a CR. It would be nice if they decided that search and seizure without a warrant was a power they didn’t want the executive branch to have. It would be nice if they responded to a president [cough Bush cough] breaking the geneva convention on torture by drastically cutting is budget or impeaching him rather than supporting the move. And so on.

    Now, this particular congress is simply tribal; even if they did these things under Obama, they’d cede those powers back to a GOP president in an instant. But nevertheless, as a general or ‘theoretical’ comment, I’d be very happy with a US where the legislative branch was stronger than it is now and did not cede so much of its decision-making powers to the executive. I don’t necessarily want this president to be weaker, but a weaker presidency (as a position) would, IMO, be okay.

  5. sqlrob says

    Wouldn’t they at least have standing for the minimum wage one since they are responsible for budget?

  6. D. C. Sessions says

    Never mind standing, this could get tossed as “failure to state cause.” I mean, “he says he might issue executive orders that we won’t like once he issues them?” Say what?

  7. says

    See? Bipartisanship can work…as long as it consists of Obama annoying his Base for not presidenting enough and outraging those across the aisle for presidenting at all.

  8. John Pieret says

    democommie @ 1 has it right. This is nothing more than singing to the choir … political theater for the benefit of the mouth-breathing party. It won’t matter a bit to them if any such suit is dismissed. In fact, it might be welcomed as another opportunity to rail against “activist judges” or how the Senate’s limiting filibusters is Obama’s takeover of the judiciary or whatever other silly conspiracy they want to promote.

  9. Mr Ed says

    conservatives are preparing to sue

    The part of tort reform. Guess when I sue it is just mucking up things but when they do it it is for a good reason.

  10. jnorris says

    The Tea Party House of Representatives has to sue. They don’t know how to even begin to fashion a legislative solution.

  11. khms says

    Congress almost never has standing to sue the president.

    Interesting.

    Over here in Germany, every top constitutional organ (president, chancellor, parliament and so on), and every member of these (such as an individual representative) has standing to sue every other one for violating their rights arising from their constitutionally-defined relation. They must, of course, be able to state a minimally-plausible cause, which this wouldn’t be.

    One of Wikipedia’s example is a representative suing his own parliamentary group because he didn’t like his assigned seat. (Others are suing the president for not signing a law, and stuff like that.)

    It’s called Organklage (organ {of the constitution} lawsuit, or constitutional challenge). And it’s not particularly rare.

  12. njosprey says

    She said the plan is to introduce legislation allowing lawmakers to hire an attorney, so “we can force the president to act under the Constitution.”

    Re-read that quote: can they also be seeking to eliminate executive discretion in enforcement of laws (e.g. not arresting pot smokers in states where recreational use is legalized, not arresting and deporting “Dreamers,” ending raids to arrest undocumented workers who have not committed a criminal offense).

  13. says

    She said the plan is to introduce legislation allowing lawmakers to hire an attorney, so “we can force the president to act under the Constitution.”

    So she plans to introduce this very anti-Obama law. Does she expect the senate will vote for it, too? Does she expect Obama will sign it into law? Or, does she think there are enough votes to override a veto?

    Or does this just allow her to hold twice as many pointless votes each week? Up 1st, ponitless vote on repealing ACA. After than pointless vote on this anti-president bill.

  14. says

    The courts are very reluctant to get involved in disputes between the other two branches of government and for good reason.

    Be that as it may, there must be some mechanism (short of impeachment) by which Congress can reign-in a President who oversteps his bounds. And I imagine it would have to involve the courts. After all, they’re the de facto arbiters of what powers are delegated by the Constitution.

    So I don’t think the concept here is completely crazy. Hypocritical and childish coming from the Republicans, yes. But ultimately, the President can deal with a hostile Congress by issuing executive orders only as far as his authority allows. The limits of that authority have to be defined somewhere.

  15. Chiroptera says

    Area Man, #16: The limits of that authority have to be defined somewhere.

    I would imagine that a private citizen directly affected by the executive order could bring suit alleging that the executive order went beyond the President’s authority allowed by law.

    But I agree that there are some things, like the Congress’ authority to declare war, that ends up falling between the cracks. There should be some mechanism to enforce this type of authority.

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