The House Rules Committee held a hearing today on whether to allow the House to move ahead with a lawsuit against President Obama. The lawsuit, spearheaded by Speaker John Boehner, is in response to Obama’s intentional failure to enforce Obamacare’s employer mandate. House leaders expect the measure to move out of committee and receive a floor vote before the August recess.
At the hearing, Committee Chairman Pete Sessions said, “My fear is that our nation is currently facing the exact threat that the Constitution is designed to avoid. Branches of government have always attempted to exert their influence on the other branches, but this President has gone too far.”
House Speaker John Boehner has said the lawsuit “isn’t about Republicans versus Democrats; it’s about the legislative branch versus the executive branch, and above all protecting the Constitution. [Obama] believes he has the power to make his own laws — at times even boasting about it.”
Johnathan Turley, a liberal law professor at George Washington University, testified that the lawsuit is a “worthy” effort. In regards to standing, Florida International law professor Elizabeth Price Foley testified that, “When a President unilaterally waives, delays or suspends a law such as the ACA, he squelches any opportunity to have a robust, political debate about the workability of the law, and thereby undermines democracy itself,” thus establishing standing.
Recent Supreme Court decisions seemingly indicate an increased likelihood of success for the lawsuit. Ronald Rotunda, Chapman University law professor and featured panelist at this year’s National Election Law Seminar said of the lawsuit, “I never would have thought, 10 years ago or even five years ago, that recess appointments would ever get litigated at the Supreme Court. If there is a theme here, it’s when it gets to the Supreme Court, the president loses.”
Even Obama-appointed Justice Sonia Sotomayor has indicated during oral arguments that she is wary of letting the president decide whether to enforce laws. “If we call this a political question and don’t address the merits, the outcome is that the president is saying that he’s entitled to ignore the Congress. I don’t know what kind of message that sends, but it’s a little unsettling…”