Americans don’t want House Republicans to sue Obama over executive actions

posted at 12:41 pm on July 25, 2014 by Noah Rothman

A note of caution.

Republicans in Congress and in the commentariat are fed up with this White House failing to faithfully execute the law, as is its constitutional charge. Regarding this administration’s selective enforcement of the laws passed by Congress – ranging from DOMA to DACA, from recess appointments made while Congress was in session to the delayed and selective implementation of the Affordable Care Act – the GOP is foursquare behind a proposal to sue the president over his flagrant abuse of authority.

The public at large, however, is less than enthralled with the idea of suing President Obama. “Based on what you have read or heard, do you believe that the Republicans in the U.S. House should file a lawsuit against Obama, or don’t you feel that way?” CNN/ORC pollsters recently asked the public. 57 percent said that the GOP should not sue Obama while just 41 percent supported the lawsuit.

On its face, this makes little sense when compared to another finding in this poll: a plurality of Americans think Obama “has gone too far” in his effort to extend the powers of the presidency. 45 percent agree that Obama is expanding executive authority beyond its appropriate constitutional limits while just 22 percent say he has not gone “far enough.” Only self-identified liberals, Democrats, northeasterners, and urban residents disagree that the president has exceeded the boundaries placed on him by the Founders. Another 30 percent of respondents believe Obama’s actions are “about right.”

How do you square these two incongruous results? While a plurality may believe that Obama has exceeded his authority and should be reined in, the public may also think a lawsuit filed by already suspect congressional Republicans is the right instrument to accomplish that.

The public’s calculation may yet change, particularly if Obama moves forward with even more excessive executive actions. Time Magazine, for example, suggested on Thursday that Obama may be preparing to unilaterally implement part of the immigration reform bill, which passed the Senate in 2013 but failed in the House, and extend legal status to up to 8 million illegal U.S. residents. That remains an unlikely eventuality. Barring a similar abuse of power, the GOP has a lot of educating to do in order to convince the public that this lawsuit is appropriate.

And that education effort will be a titanic task.

Appearing on MSNBC with Chuck Todd on Friday for the first leg of an upcoming book tour cum anti-poverty push, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was asked about only one other issue besides his Earned Income Tax Credit proposal: the House lawsuit.

“Is this a productive – a productive thing for House Republicans to be focused on in an election year?” an incredulous Todd asked.

“We can walk and chew gum at the same time,” Ryan replied. He conceded that the traditional vehicle to rein in the executive would be the power of the purse – a vehicle stuck in neutral while the Senate continues to shield the president from legislative checks. That is why, Ryan said, he will support the lawsuit.

The tone of Todd’s question is instructive. The press, the political entertainment complex, and the liberal establishment in general will frame this lawsuit as a waste of time at best or, at worst, an example of Obama’s persecution at the hands of deranged Republicans. There are precious few examples in the recent past of instances when the GOP was able to speak over the heads of the media and convince an already skeptical public that their course of action is the correct one.

It seems possible, given the general mistrust in the president, that a narrow majority could be convinced that the House lawsuit is necessary. The Republicans, however, will have to stop acting coy and self-conscious about it and make that case. All the while, they will not be talking about economic opportunity, Obamacare, the nightmare on the southern border, or the president’s inattention to crises overseas. Democrats, meanwhile, would like nothing more than to contend that they are dealing with a myopic opposition party which is far more focused on scoring political points against Obama than the concerns of the public.

Republicans may believe that a principle is at stake and preserving the Constitution’s separation of powers though the courts is worth taking a hit in the polls. In an election year, that is a risky proposition and the pursuit of principle could mean the difference between emboldening or neutering the Obama presidency in its final years.


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Comment pages: 1 2

The constitution was the start of the US, not the end. It was a pretty decent start, and kudos to the founding fathers on it. But it was far from perfect and by itself totally incapable of providing for the government of a modern nation. All those laws you hate? Those are the mortar of our nation. But you want to tear our house apart and replace it with a broken pile of bricks…because of a long outdated philosophical model you refuse to re-evaluate no matter what.

Tlaloc on July 25, 2014 at 5:08 PM

This *ahem!* reasoning is why we can’t have nice things any more…

Newtie and the Beauty on July 25, 2014 at 5:12 PM

All those laws you hate? Those are the mortar of our nation. But you want to tear our house apart and replace it with a broken pile of bricks…

Tlaloc on July 25, 2014 at 5:08 PM

You might want to sit down for this.

You can actually survive without getting all those bennies and government cheese. All on your own. Lots of people do it all the time.

They are called…taxpayers.

sharrukin on July 25, 2014 at 5:19 PM

Will house republicans do anything productive? Or will it be another 20 symbolic votes against obamacare with a government shutdown thrown in?

Tlaloc on July 25, 2014 at 1:41 PM
.

Productive like 100+ jobs bills passed, including about two dozen sponsored by Democrats that were deep-sixed by Dingy Harry in the Senate without votes,

Athos on July 25, 2014 at 2:06 PM

.
cutting taxes on the wealthy and screwing the poor is not a jobs bill no matter what you title it.

Tlaloc on July 25, 2014 at 5:04 PM

.
In what way/HOW … are the poor “screwed” by legislation that cuts taxes for the “rich”?

listens2glenn on July 25, 2014 at 5:24 PM

Poll question:

Should Obama be impeached or sued for breaking his oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Select:
1. Impeach and Prosecute to remove from office.

2. Sue because there is no constitutional provision for the House to sue the POTUS, and Obama ignores/breaks law. So what difference, at this point, does it make?

Polls only produce the desired result. AS IF CNN propagandizes against ANY Obama agenda. pfft

You can bet money that if House Republican weenies “dare” to mumble against Obama/Holder and whoever else, it is ONLY to pacify the majority of constituents. Members of Congress take polls every day, counting calls and letters. Not that they act accordingly. The calls to Congress are to impeach Obama. The “best” response from Republicans is to sue Obama, which lawsuit amounts to diddlysquat.

maverick muse on July 25, 2014 at 6:09 PM

Tlaloc: But it was far from perfect and by itself totally incapable of providing for the government of a modern nation.

You’re wrong about that.

Our Constitutional Republic, complete with Bill of Rights, proved to be the most magnificently balanced symmetrical structure for governance.

The only thing lacking are the responsible citizenry.

Without the citizens who take responsibilities of Liberty seriously, of course politicians take advantage of office for personal profits. At which point, it’s a mob, everyone out to take as much as they can without producing anything of value in return.

Tralala.

No fault of the structural form which of itself is as perfect as can be, when organized criminals sabotage and demolish the structure. “Because I Could” — Clinton isn’t the first nor the only politician with that motto. Sadly, that motto has replaced our national motto “In God We Trust” and E Pluribus Unum — out of many peoples, one people.

Only 15 years ago, Hollywood movies (Robin Williams) were still propagandizing the Virtue of Legal Emigration, with a female judge swearing in the new citizens with their oath of allegiance, reminding them that they are no longer subjects to any government, but are citizens of the United States of America where there are “no hyphenated ethnic identities”.

Don’t forfeit what matters as the essence of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Unless you don’t care, and don’t want any freedom to think or do, according to your own talents and personal goals. Even then, you have no right to order others to forfeit Constitutional Governance because inconvenience is terribly politically incorrect, and you like being PC.

When the ultimate crash occurs, don’t forfeit the minimal simple responsibilities due from government (protect the borders), and advocate and vote for constitutional integrity: separated and limited powers. All the agendas and programs and phnu-phnu aside, keep expectations simple, stupid.

maverick muse on July 25, 2014 at 6:26 PM

cutting taxes on the wealthy and screwing the poor is not a jobs bill no matter what you title it.

Tlaloc on July 25, 2014 at 5:04 PM

.

In what way/HOW … are the poor “screwed” by legislation that cuts taxes for the “rich”?

listens2glenn on July 25, 2014 at 5:24 PM

L2G, you’re asking for the reasonable from the unreasonable.

Alien on July 25, 2014 at 6:32 PM

Impeachment is the proper tool to use.

Anything else just further demeans a Congress which lacks the fortitude and/or will to fight to preserve its proper role as a co-equal branch of government.

If you can’t chop the head off the monster, chop off its hands and feet.

Impeach those in Justice, IRS, EPA, etc. who have over-stepped their constitutional bounds. Imprison those who have lied (which was Scooter Libby’s crime…remember?) and watch the others fold.

landlines on July 25, 2014 at 6:41 PM

Thank god you guys are so incompetent or you could do real damage.

Tlaloc on July 25, 2014 at 5:08 PM

You mean something like 100 trillion in unallocated obligations?

DFCtomm on July 25, 2014 at 7:10 PM

MODERATOR ALERT ! … listens2glenn is about to “GO OFF”, again…..
.

Thank god you guys are so incompetent or you could do real damage.

Tlaloc on July 25, 2014 at 5:08 PM

.
You mean something like 100 trillion in unallocated obligations?

DFCtomm on July 25, 2014 at 7:10 PM

.
HEY … Tlaloc ! . . . . . . . . . .
.
Why have you been in hiding, since your arrogant comment at 5:11 PM ?
.

. . . . . Sure there are times when a courageous dissent from popular opinion can be useful and necessary, but the right’s temper tantrum is growing very old very quickly. If you guys can’t govern get the &^%$ out of office and let others who can do so.

Tlaloc on July 25, 2014 at 5:11 PM

.
That kind of talk leaves no room for any other options in response, except surrender (on our part), or blood-shed.
.
I have *zero* intention of surrendering this country to those of your political ideology/philosophy of governance, and it is something worth going to “blood shed”, over.
Either those kind of words from you are intended as ‘fighting words’, because you’re ready to go “toe-to-toe”, OR … you’re one of those instigators, who like to incite two opposing sides into trying to kill each other, and then stand waaay back at a safe distance, and enjoy the show.

Now which the HANG are you ?

listens2glenn on July 25, 2014 at 10:30 PM

All we are asking the President to do is follow the law.

This is not about sex or abuse of power, this is about the law.

Are we a nation under the rule of men, or a nation under the rule of law?

TallDave on July 26, 2014 at 2:35 AM

Comment pages: 1 2