House Speaker John Boehner doesn't take "lightly" his decision to file a lawsuit against President Obama's executive actions, the Ohio Republican insisted in a Sunday editorial, offering little more rationale for his extraordinary spin on checks and balances than the president's "flippant dismissal of the Constitution we are both sworn to defend."
"The Constitution makes it clear that the president's job is to faithfully execute the laws," Boehner wrote in his op-ed published to CNN.com. "And, in my view, the president has not faithfully executed the laws when it comes to a range of issues, including his health care law, energy regulations, foreign policy and education."
When he announced last month that he'd implore the House General Counsel to take legal action against Mr. Obama, Boehner similarly referenced that the president had "run an end-around on the American people and their elected legislators" on general policy issues, but did not list specific overreaches the president has made. In his commentary Sunday, titled "Why we must now sue the President," Boehner took a blow at Mr. Obama's ongoing attempt to direct focus to economic issues affecting the middle class.
"The president's habit of ignoring the law as written hurts our economy and jobs even more," Boehner wrote. "Washington taxes and regulations always make it harder for private sector employers to meet payrolls, invest in new initiatives and create jobs - but how can those employers plan, invest and grow when the laws are changing on the president's whim at any moment?"
Indeed, teetering in the crux of historically unprecedented congressional gridlock, Mr. Obama over the past few months has trumpeted his ability to wield "pen and phone" powers to counter Republican obstruction. It's a centuries-old move to test the limits of executive authority, but in an era of heightened partisanship, the idea of unilateral action from the White House has predictably incited outrage from the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
"If you look back over American history, there has always been a tension between the inherent powers of the executive branch versus the inherent powers of the legislative branch," the House speaker wrote Sunday. "This issue is as old as Marbury vs. Madison and as fresh as the unanimous Supreme Court ruling last week that the President overstepped his authority on recess appointments.
"Over the last five years, starting - not coincidentally - when his political party lost the majority in the House of Representatives, the president has consistently overstepped his authority under the Constitution, and in so doing eroded the power of the legislative branch," Boehner continued. "The legislative branch has an obligation to defend the rights and responsibilities of the American people, and America's constitutional balance of powers - before it is too late."
The president, for his part, has embraced the lawsuit as a punch line to thrill crowds at his rallies. On Tuesday at an event promoting infrastructure legislation currently stalled on Capitol Hill, Mr. Obama mocked the GOP, saying, "Middle-class families can't wait for Republicans in Congress to do stuff... so, sue me."
"As long as they're doing nothing, I'm not going to apologize for trying to do something," the president said.