A conservative group beat House Republicans to the punch, filing a lawsuit late last week claiming President Obama has abused his powers by modifying his health care law through executive fiat.
“The American people are sick and tired of this president’s flippant disregard for the Constitution and Congress’ unwillingness to do anything serious about it,” said Robert Muise, co-founder and senior counsel for the American Freedom Law Center, which filed the suit on July 4 in federal district court.
The suit says Mr. Obama overstepped when he delayed Obamacare’s mandates on employers, as well as tweaked sign-up requirements for individuals.
The law center said the moves were made to quell the political firestorm that erupted after millions of Americans with individual health insurance plans received cancellation notices after Mr. Obama promised repeatedly and emphatically that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”
The lawsuit also says the president’s executive actions have caused an economic hardship for those who are abiding by the law as passed and purchasing the higher premium plans.
Mr. Obama has increasingly come under fire from conservatives who accuse him of presidential overreach and criticize his use of executive authority to bypass Congress and enact his agenda, including on immigration, minimum wage, gay rights and health care.
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Two weeks ago, House Speaker John A. Boehner announced his plans to sue Mr. Obama for overstepping his powers. And on Monday, Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said in a CNN op-ed that the president’s response to his threat of a lawsuit was: “So sue me.”
Mr. Boehner said he plans to bring legislation to the floor this month that would authorize the House to “file suit in an effort to compel President Obama to follow his oath of office and faithfully execute the laws of our country.”
“In the end, the Constitution makes it clear that the president’s job is to faithfully execute the laws. 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,” Mr. Boehner said.
But his move has been criticized by legal analysts, who say it will be difficult for House Republicans to show a specific harm that would give them standing to sue. For his part, Mr. Boehner has been coy about what specific executive actions he might object to in a lawsuit.
In the case of the law center, they said they have standing because they are abiding by federal law and offering Obamacare-compliant plans to their employees — which the center said means they’ll end up paying more than employees of businesses that flouted the law but were granted exemptions or extra time to come into compliance.
Mr. Obama’s allies, including Americans United for Change, have brushed off claims of executive overreach by pointing out that last five presidents have issued more executive orders than Obama.
Mo Elleithee, communications director for the Democratic National Committee, said over the weekend that the House threat to sue is part of a broader effort to gin up the party’s base before the 2014 midterm election.
“The Republican leadership in the House of Representatives is at historic lows in terms of its public opinion,” Mr. Elleithee said. “People are tired of this. They are tired of a Congress that would rather fight the president in order to turn out their base than work with the president to get things done.”