A piece of legislation will soon be voted on by the House of Representatives, which would allow President Obama to be sued for what many Republican House members are describing as his overreach of authority.
Those who support this legislation are claiming President Obama’s circumvention of Congress through the use of executive orders was unconstitutional. Some Republicans, including former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, have been calling for the impeachment of the president over what they view as his willingness to overstep the Constitution on the same grounds.
What it would take to impeach a president though is what the Constitution calls “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” These crimes include, but are not limited to according to constitution.org, “perjury of oath, refusal to obey orders, abuse of authority, dereliction of duty, etc.”
Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee Chairman, however, told reporters Wednesday, according to TIME, the House should move forward with the talks of suing the president for his use of executive orders, but abandon the thought of impeachment. “This does not rise to the high crimes and misdemeanor level,” Ryan said.
Many Democrats are calling the idea of suing the president “legally groundless,” and saying it will only be a burden on taxpayers, resulting in the unnecessary use of millions of tax dollars.
Democratic Congressman Alcee Hastings has, according to the BBC, called the plan to sue the president “frivolous on steroids,” and “absolutely insane.”
The use of the president’s executive orders is the central issue for both talks of impeachment and potential lawsuits. The president has mentioned in the past he would act unilaterally with his executive orders to bypass House Republicans, who are “unwilling to stand up to the Tea Party in order to do what’s best for the country.”
Ryan, however, has said the executive orders are hindering the process of checks and balances established by the Constitution.
What many people fail to remember is presidents have used multiple executive orders to push through legislation in the past. While President Obama has so far used 183 executive orders, many past presidents have exceeded 300 executive orders including Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Jimmy Carter.
House Republicans are holding to their claims, saying President Obama is upsetting the balance of power amongst the three branches of government.
“Such a shift in power,” wrote Republicans in a report to accompany the legislation, “should alarm members of both political parties because it threatens the very institution of the Congress.”