Wednesday the House voted 225-201 to move forward with filing a lawsuit against the president. The GOP decided that it was finally time to let President Obama know that doing as he pleases would no longer be tolerated. Republicans are saying that the lawsuit is a constitutional tool to reign in a lawless president. It sends the message that he can no longer supersede Congress and ignore the laws he swore to uphold.
Speaker of the House John Boehner has repeatedly stated that the GOP has no plans to impeach Obama but felt that a lawsuit was a better way to go and had a better chance of succeeding. The lawsuit focuses on charges he has failed to implement the Affordable Care Act as written. One would have thought that they would have focused on the illegal immigrant crisis. Immigration and amnesty are the issues that fire up the hard-liners on the right. Because health care has already been successful in the courts to a degree, Boehner decided to go that route. Besides, they can’t afford to alienate Latino voters.
Like children fighting on the play ground, the democrats are claiming that the GOP is using the lawsuit to try and secure voters for the mid-terms, and the GOP is saying that the democrats are raising the impeachment specter as a scam to sway voters to their side. The juvenile name calling and finger pointing is indicative of just how ineffective our governing body really is.
The question is, will the lawsuit be successful and have the desired effect or is it a huge mistake that could severely damage the GOP? The ability of individual members of Congress to sue or to contest executive branch actions has been largely restricted by the U.S. Supreme Court. When it has heard such cases, it has been on lesser matters such as enforcing a subpoena. The high-stakes constitutional confrontation that Boehner proposes is one that judges would prefer to avoid
Since the Senate will not be joining in the lawsuit, the judges may very well rule that only Congress as a whole, and not one chamber acting alone, has standing to bring the lawsuit Boehner is proposing. The legal waters the House is entering have been, until now, unexplored. However, it will be hard for the judges to avoid a resolution approved by a majority of one congressional chamber.
While the lawsuit may be legally solid, politically it is on shaky ground. For a lawsuit to revitalize both the principle and the perception of it’s importance requires that the challenge be solid on both.