Perhaps Barack Obama had better have his attorney present during his prime-time announcement this evening of his new, unilateral changes to immigration enforcement. Anything he says could be used against him in court, Texas governor Rick Perry warned yesterday at the annual Republican Governors Association meeting in Florida. If Obama moves forward to ignore the law, that could increase costs to the states — and Perry thinks Texas might have a case in court to reverse the action:
President Barack Obama may have a phone and pen, but outgoing Gov. Rick Perry of Texas says he has the grounds for a lawsuit if he uses either.
Speaking at the Republican Governors Association annual meeting in Boca Raton, Florida, on Wednesday, Perry said “there’s probably a very real possibility” that Texas could sue the White House if the administration takes executive action on immigration.
“I’ll speak from our perspective in the state of Texas,” Perry said. “The cost to the people of the state of Texas is an extraordinary amount of money that this President is exacerbating with his announcement that he’s going to allow for this executive order.”
Perry will only be governor for a short period of time, but Greg Abbott will likely follow in his footsteps. The case would certainly be novel; how does one force the government out of inaction? A court could force the federal government to indemnify the states for the added costs of a failure to perform its duty under the law, one could suppose, and that would create all sorts of headaches for Obama. He would have to go to Congress to get that money appropriated, which the incoming Congress would refuse to do. That would put them in a position where they would have to perform or have the court find Obama’s Homeland Security officials in contempt. It might not move Obama off of his insistence of sticking with the unilateral approach, but it would isolate him politically and make Democrats even more toxic than they are now.
Perry’s not the only governor — and potential 2016 presidential contender — looking to the third branch of government. Scott Walker told Bloomberg’s Margaret Telev that Republicans on Capitol Hill have a “compelling” legal case against Obama on unilateral amnesty:
“[Congress] should go to court,” Walker said, noting Obama’s own previous public doubts about how much he could do on his own. “I think the court would ultimately side with the Congress on this–it’s separation of powers.” …
Walker said that a shutdown should be seen as a “last-case scenario”–a bad one at that. “When there’s other viable options out there, I think it’s much preferable. Particularly early on, I’d like to set the stage with some optimistic things.” He wants the Republican Congress to spend the next year pushing a “very aggressive agenda” of lowering the tax rate and enticing companies to move jobs back to the U.S. from overseas, revisiting the Keystone vote, and repealing Obamacare, all of which would be nearly impossible with a government shutdown.
Ted Cruz also wants Republicans to go to court … but in a different direction. The Senate should refuse to confirm any Obama nominees, especially judicial appointments, while he acts like “a monarch”:
If the President announces executive amnesty, the new Senate Majority Leader who takes over in January should announce that the 114th Congress will not confirm a single nominee—executive or judicial—outside of vital national security positions, so long as the illegal amnesty persists.
This is a potent tool given to Congress by the Constitution explicitly to act as a check on executive power. It is a constitutional power of the Majority Leader alone, and it would serve as a significant deterrent to a lawless President.
Additionally, the new Congress should exercise the power of the purse by passing individual appropriations bills authorizing critical functions of government and attaching riders to strip the authority from the president to grant amnesty.
President Obama will no doubt threaten a shutdown—that seems to be the one card he repeatedly plays—but Congress can authorize funding for agencies of government one at a time. If the President is unwilling to accepting funding for, say, the Department of Homeland Security without his being able to unilaterally defy the law, he alone will be responsible for the consequences.
Basically, Obama’s deliberately sticking a thumb in the eye of Republicans and daring them to either attempt an impeachment or shutdown. Both would make Obama look like the adult in the room, rather than direct focus on what Cruz calls this “presidential temper tantrum” over a policy dispute. Republicans aren’t taking the bait, however, which is going to make Obama look like the petty, petulant demagogue.
The problem for Obama, as I explain in a column for The Fiscal Times, is that he still believes his own press — from 2008. The ground has shifted dramatically under Obama’s feet, especially lately, and that makes his Vegas show tonight a much bigger gamble than he realizes:
This might have given a wiser executive some pause in normal circumstances. In the current environment, the potential for backfire is even higher. A series of recorded comments from Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber contemptuously and repeatedly dismissed American voters as “stupid” while bragging that Democrats deliberately misled the public about the nature of the bill.
Gruber also claimed that Obama asked for his help in faking out voters, especially on the nature of the taxes being applied to taxpayers through their health insurance plans. Obama himself and leading Democrats like Nancy Pelosi claimed not to know who Gruber was, only to have videos of Obama, Pelosi, and others bragging about Gruber’s work on the bill.
Put simply, Obama’s credibility is near zero already. Now he’s claiming that Congress is too balky to work with him on immigration, when it’s been clear for years that Obama has had almost no interest in the issue except as a political sledgehammer. Will anyone believe that? Doubtful. …
The correct method for dealing with laws in need of reform is dialogue with the opposition, especially after it has won a resounding victory and control over both chambers of Congress. There are still plenty of Republicans who want to get an honest reform that balances national security with humanitarian concerns while preserving the rule of law and the balance of power.
Rather than wait a few weeks to deal with his opposition, Obama instead chose to roll the dice on a temper tantrum, in the mistaken belief that the American voters his team assumes are stupid will confuse a tantrum with leadership.
In Vegas and in politics, it’s called doubling down – and it’s usually a bad idea in both.
He’s already losing in the court of public opinion. Obama may end up losing all of his court picks over the next two years, too, and get another embarrassing slap from the judiciary on top of it for (once again) treading on the prerogative of the legislature. People throwing tantrums usually miss the realities of their own predicaments.