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Join the discussion: Does the lawsuit against Obama have any value?

Published: Wednesday, July 16 2014 9:25 a.m. MDT

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks about foreign policy and escalating sanctions against Russia in response to the crisis in Ukraine in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, July 16, 2014. (Jacquelyn Martin, Associated Press) President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks about foreign policy and escalating sanctions against Russia in response to the crisis in Ukraine in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, July 16, 2014. (Jacquelyn Martin, Associated Press)

Speaker John Boehner is in the process of filing a lawsuit against President Obama for failing to uphold the law, according to Politico. The decision to press charges has been met with a wide range of opinions in the political sphere.

“It’s a hare-brained idea,” former general counsel to the House of Representatives Stan Brand said to Politico. “I think there’s a case to be made that Obama has exceeded the recent history of executive overreaching, but I don’t know that it’s remediable in court — or should be.”

Part of the problem, according to Politico, is that in order to have a case the party filing the suit must have hard evidence of damages done. This might be difficult given the relatively vague premise of Boehner’s case, Politico continued.

Some believe there is no case at all, only a cheap political stunt in the making.

"This is a partisan political stunt timed to peak in the House of Representatives in November, right as the midterm elections are happening," Louise Slaughter, D-New York, said to Businessweek. "The House majority is suing the president simply for doing his job."

A poll of Americans conducted by the liberal advocacy group Americans United for Change, which was picked up by The Hill, found that 51 percent of voters believe the lawsuit has no real weight, while 41 percent think the suit is legitimate. Another 56 percent believe that the lawsuit is wasteful spending of taxpayer money.

“Anyone whose boss routinely uses a taxpayer-funded jumbo jet to attend political fundraisers probably ought to lay off that particular talking point,” The Hill quoted Boehner spokesman Michael Steel as saying in response to accusations of wasting money.

Some agree with Steel and believe that Obama has far overstepped his bounds and this lawsuit is one step closer to calling the president to accountability.

“I would not call it a joke,” Newsweek quoted Tara Grove of the College of William and Mary Law School. “I think it’s significant that the House of Representatives is actually thinking of bringing this matter to court.”

Some believe that this even transcends politics and legality and becomes an issue of morality.

"This is not a political issue. This is not an issue that should pit Republicans against Democrats," Pete Sessions, R-Texas, told Businessweek.

"Any person interested in our Constitution and our brilliant system of separation of powers should be worried about what is currently happening in our country.”

Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post believes that the issue is not a straightforward matter of Boehner punishing Obama for overstepping his bounds. According to Capehart, this lawsuit is likely Boehner’s attempt to satisfy those in his party who are calling for Obama’s impeachment.

“Politically, the Boehner suit is a fool’s errand because it won’t do what he wants it to do,” wrote Capehart. “Rather than tamp down talk of impeaching Obama, it will lead to an increased clamor for it.”

Boehner has stated that he disagrees with Sarah Palin’s desire to impeach the president, Capehart said, but if a majority of the GOP is still pushing for impeachment even after this lawsuit, Boehner might lose any control he has over his party.

“Imagine the pressure on Boehner to impeach Obama if the GOP retakes the Senate in the November midterm elections,” he said. “Because the speaker repeatedly has shown an inability to bring the tea party faction of his caucus to heel, I fully expect Boehner to buckle.”

Boehner’s motives might be more aggressive than that, others have argued. He might have the 2016 presidential election in mind.

“Perhaps it’s coincidence, but Boehner’s decision to pursue a lawsuit that, if successful, would significantly rein in the power of the executive branch comes at the same time he decided not to pursue immigration reform this year,” wrote Pema Levy of Newsweek. “Many believe the decision will cost Republicans so many Latino votes that it will be impossible to win the White House in the short to medium term, at the least.”

Legally it may be a long shot, but if it succeeds, Republicans might reap the benefits, according to Paul Begala of CNN.

“Progressives would do well to assume there is a method to Boehner's madness,” wrote Begala. “Perhaps realizing that shifting demographics and a divided GOP will make it difficult to put a Republican back in the White House, they may seize on Boehner's lawsuit and use it to further crimp the power of the chief executive.”

Bethan Owen is a writer for the Deseret News Moneywise and Opinion sections. Twitter: BethanO2

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