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“Riding The Tea Party’s Wrecking Ball”: How Many More Scandals Can The GOP Invent Before It Finishes Suing Obama?

Serious lawsuits start with some specific legal grievance – a claim that someone was injured by a defective product, say, or that a search was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment – and proceed from there. US House speaker John Boehner wants to sue the President of the United States – for no particular reason other than his alleged lawlessness – and fill in the details later.

The lawsuit, which a House committee will take up rather seriously on Wednesday, is a frivolous stunt that not only has no chance of succeeding but isn’t even intended to succeed. The belated choice of targets does provide a useful illustration of Republican priorities, though: most notably, registering more outrage at the Affordable Care Act and further attempting to legitimize various fake scandals wafting up from the conservative fever swamp.

Some of the GOP attacks on the Obama administration have had real substantive effects. This suit, however, is analogous to the endless House votes to repeal Obamacare – an impotent symbolic gesture by Republicans frustrated they were unable to deny access to health coverage to tens of millions of American citizens.

By speaking first in general terms about Obama’s alleged failure to “faithfully execute the laws” in favor of usurping the will of Congress, plus the president’s failure to do enough bombing of random foreign countries, Boehner allowed the Tea Party’s insatiable skree machine to fill in its own gibberish legalese. Why focus on one potential impeachable offense when the examples can be nearly infinite? Benghazi! Fast and Furious! Executive orders!

Now that Boehner has actually announced the basis for the lawsuit – and will spend the next two weeks getting it to the floor for another meaningless Obamacare vote – it turns out to be a narrow and almost certainly irrelevant one. The suit will focus on a claim that Obama acted illegally when the administration decided to effectively delay implementation of the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act, by declining to penalize employers who didn’t comply in 2014.

In fairness, the argument isn’t unreasonable on its own terms, but to bring a legal challenge in federal court, a plaintiff must have “standing” – Boehner and Co must show that the House of Representatives has been directly injured or otherwise directly affected. Under existing precedents, that’s nearly impossible.

And even if the federal courts were to grant standing, for a lawsuit to proceed, there has to be an ongoing controversy. Since the employer mandate will almost certainly not be delayed another year, the issue is likely to be moot before the lawsuit gets very far, which will result in its getting thrown out. The American taxpayers will have funded a no-hope legal challenge because House Republicans needed to keep their base’s 24/7 scandal-invention machine going – not because there was an actual controversy.

It’s not clear what kind of bill the coming weeks might produce. Conservative legal experts will be happy to give testimony, some of which will be reflected in the final resolution. But the details are fundamentally irrelevant. The federal courts will almost certainly deny that they have jurisdiction, Boehner will have sent politically expedient signals to his base, and the successful implementation of Obamacare will proceed exactly as it would have – as if nobody had ever sued the President of the United States at all. As for the defective product that is the Republican-controlled House, well, the only remedy for the injuries they’ve inflicted is at the ballot box in November.


By: Scott Lemieux, The Guardian, July 15, 2014


July 16, 2014 Posted by | House Republicans, John Boehner, Tea Party | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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