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Did Boehner "jump the shark" with his lawsuit proposal?

House Speaker John Boehner, shown here, has requested House approval to file a lawsuit against President Barack Obama for violating the Constitution.
House Speaker John Boehner, shown here, has requested House approval to file a lawsuit against President Barack Obama for violating the Constitution.
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

It would appear that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) may have finally “jumped the shark” in his quest to take down President Barack Obama. The latest move from the embattled speaker came this week in the form of his request for the House of Representatives to authorize him to file a lawsuit on the chamber’s behalf against the President.

The proposed lawsuit alleges the President willfully failed to enforce the law as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution. This move has become so unpopular nationally that not only have commentators such as the Arizona Republic’s Robert Robb called it “unwise,” but also the White House’s “We The People” website now features a petition calling on President Obama to respond by suing Boehner for, among other things, planning to file the suit:

Congress and House Republicans, led by John Boehner have wasted the past 6 years with political grandstanding. They've done nothing to help the president and have even disagreed with their own beliefs if the president agreed with them. They have wasted millions and millions of taxpayer money only because the majority of the American people aren't in favor of the republican party's outdated belief system. This class action lawsuit would return all wasted money to the taxpayers. - Petition filed on "We The People" website.

Both conservatives and liberals alike have panned Boehner’s proposed suit, calling Boehner’s actions everything from “wasteful” to “hare-brained.” Robb’s commentary even touches on the circular logic of the suit, in which Boehner uses Obama’s failure to only selectively enforce the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act as the principal grounds behind the lawsuit’s prime accusation against the President. While many experts on both the right and left agree that the President’s governing style has been tantamount to rule-by-decree, most also are in agreement that this particular lawsuit is not only lacking in substantive merit, but threatens to undermine the very cause for while Boehner appears to be fighting.

The White House petition currently has just over 1,500 signatures, with 100,000 required to trigger Presidential review. The website has featured a variety of petitions over the years, ranging from calls for the U.S. Mint to produce a Trillion Dollar Platinum Coin to hedge against the national debt, to a petition allowing Texas to secede from the Union. This petition has been regarded by most as a mere backlash to Boehner’s move, which itself is being seen by many experts as an election-year stunt aimed at energizing support for his flagging base. The speaker has suffered from tanking approval ratings which have eroded thanks, in part, to relentless criticism from conservative activist and talk show host Erick Erickson.