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Published: Tuesday, 7/1/2014


Suing and fuming

Speaker John Boehner of Ohio embraces a double dose of negativity.

Most Americans would agree that this nation has too much partisanship and too many lawsuits. In announcing last week that he will seek legislation that would allow the House of Representatives to sue President Obama, Speaker John Boehner of Ohio embraces a double dose of negativity.

In a letter to lawmakers, Mr. Boehner wrote: “The Constitution makes it clear that a president’s job is to faithfully execute the laws; in my view, the President has not faithfully executed the laws.” He was not specific about which laws he was referring to, but he said that it’s “our responsibility to stand up for this institution in which we serve.”

One of the problems is that while the Obama Administration offers plenty of examples of presidential overreach, that was also true of the George W. Bush administration, which was often accused of asserting imperial powers.

The deplorable practice, used frequently by Mr. Bush, of appending signing statements to legislation has continued under Mr. Obama. This battle between the White House and Congress over their relative prerogatives is an old one, yet only now are Republicans moved to sue.

This may be a reaction to Mr. Obama’s threat in his last State of the Union address to use his executive powers to bypass Congress if it continued to obstruct his legislative efforts. The proper answer to that is more constructive engagement, not another partisan provocation.

Even if legislation that permitted a lawsuit could be passed, the case would be pursued at taxpayers’ expense. Mr. Boehner, in sticking up for his institution, is not sticking up for them.

Members of Congress are paid to do their jobs. Running to the courts because they have a problem with the President is not in the job description.

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