News Column

Is It Legal to Sue the President?

July 16, 2014

Associated Press

President Obama (file photo)
President Obama (file photo)

WASHINGTON (AP) Constitutional lawyers backing a planned House Republican lawsuit against President Barack Obama told a congressional committee Wednesday that the action is justified because Obama has exceeded his powers in carrying out his health care law.

Attorneys allied with Democrats in opposing the suit said it's the GOP that's going too far by trying to resolve a political dispute by giving the question to the courts to decide.

The lawyers appeared Wednesday before the House Rules Committee, which is considering legislation authorizing the House to file the lawsuit.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has said he wants to take the legal action because Republicans believe Obama went too far when he delayed the health care law's requirement that many employers provide health coverage for their workers.

Republicans say the lawsuit is simply their attempt to defend the Congress' powers against a president who is unilaterally altering legislation to fit his desires. Democrats mock the legal action as a purely political exercise that is doomed to failure but aimed at appeasing conservatives who want to see Obama impeached.

"This is not a question of what should be done," George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, who was invited by Republicans to testify, told the committee. "It is a question of how it should be done and who should do it."

But that view was countered by attorney Simon Lazarus of the Constitutional Accountability Center, a Democratic witness who said the Constitution gives presidents authority to make reasonable and needed adjustments as laws are translated into government action.

"Exercising presidential judgment in carrying out laws into execution is precisely what the Constitution requires," said Lazarus. He said GOP claims that Obama has exceeded his powers "import the Constitution into what are, in reality, political and policy debates."

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Original headline: GOP, Dems fight over legality of suing Obama


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Source: Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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