When I learned that House Speaker John Boehner is suing President Barack Obama, I thought about a number of good reasons for something to limit executive actions. Would it be to limit NSA spying on its citizens? Could it have something to do with limiting IRS hazing of liberal and conservative groups (the Tea Party gets most of the attention, but the Congressional panel revealed that all new groups got special scrutiny)?
Would it end executive orders by the executive branch, or terminate signing statements, something done by Obama and George W. Bush (who did both with more frequency)? Might it require less immunity for advisers in the presidential administration?
Actually, it wouldn't involve any of these good reasons for a lawsuit.
Instead, House Speaker Boehner wants to sue President Obama to implement the health care law, known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), sooner.
That's right, Boehner claims that the Obama administration overstepped its legal bounds by delaying the employer mandate for a year. Businesses won't be mandated to provide health care for their employees for a year.
What's ironic is that House Republicans, when they weren't voting to repeal the ACA, they also tried to vote for the exact same delay in the employer mandate.
So the lawsuit clearly isn't about policy. It is about who has the power.
Boehner claims that the Obama administration shouldn't have the power to write the law. But isn't the executive branch allowed to implement the law? Is the timing part of writing a law, or implementing a law?
Actually, there's a long history of delays in implementing the law, even about health care. And I don't remember Boehner filing a lawsuit, or even objecting, when President George W. Bush delayed the implementation of his prescription drug law 10 years ago (passed by Congress, of course).
Boehner also claims that the White House has been abusing the executive actions, even though Obama has used the fewest executive actions since Grover Cleveland, according to the Washington Post. Granted, Boehner admitted that he thinks presidents should be allowed to use executive orders, but that the president has been abusing such authority with recess appointments.
If that term sounds familiar, it's something President George W. Bush would use when making appointments that weren't approved by Congress. Nobody remembers Boehner suing Bush over these, or even objecting to them.
When making his case for the lawsuit in his op-ed in a CNN article, Boehner didn't say anything about implementing the health care law sooner, or even that he supported some recess appointments made by Obama's predecessor. Instead, he cited Senate Democrats and President Obama refusing to pass House Republican jobs bills.
I don't remember that being unconstitutional.
When Republican voters realize that the lawsuit has nothing to do with illegal immigration, the IRS, the NSA and spying, or repealing the health care law, but making the mandates occur faster, how will they react? I foresee a lot of disappointment in GOP ranks when they read the lawsuit.
John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.