The House Republicans, in proposing to sue President Obama for his executive overreach, certainly have a target rich environment. The president has been enthusiastic in his use of executive orders to circumnavigate the rule of law. According to a Thursday story in the Washington Times, House Speaker John Boehner has hit upon Obama’s non enforcement of certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.
The president, on his own authority, has delayed enforcement of the employer mandate of the ACA, which requires businesses with more than 50 full time employees to carry health insurance. This is despite the fact that the law specifically states that the mandate begins in the months following December 31, 2013. The suspicion has been that the president knows that this provision of the law will cause economic chaos, something that he does not care to see happen before the 2014 midterm elections.
As Mary Katherine Ham at Hot Air notes, previous attempts by the legislative branch to sue the executive branch have run afoul of a judicial concept called standing. The House Republicans will have to prove that Congress as a body was harmed by the president’s failure to carry out the clear letter of the law. Boehner and the House leadership think they can do this because previous suits that had been thrown out on standing grounds involved individual legislators. The Congress as an institution is being harmed by the president’s failure to faithfully execute the law.
The president is behaving defiantly at the prospect of the litigation, using the phrase, “So sue me!” in all of his campaign style speeches. He is contending that he is only doing his job of running the government. The Congress, he asserts, is not doing its job by blocking a lot of his initiatives.
How things will play out remains to be seen. There is some opinion, not just from the left, that the law suit is political and not likely to go anywhere. Some have already noted he delicious irony that the House proposes to sue the president for failure to enforce part of a law that it has been so keen to repeal.