House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner says he wants to sue President Barack Obama over abuse of authority in his use of executive orders. OK, let’s take a look at how Obama’s executive orders stack up against those of past presidents. So far he’s issued 183. Compare that to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 3,522, Woodrow Wilson’s 1,803, Ronald Reagan’s 381, even George W. Bush’s 291, and Obama’s seem a bit restrained.
If it’s not the number, then it must be the content. So, again let’s take a look at the EOs of previous presidents.
How would Boehner react to an executive order like the one Andrew Jackson issued to remove all the federal funds from the nation’s federal bank and distribute them to “pet banks” in the states? Or how about Abraham Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War? Would he have gone along with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s executive order that created internment camps for Japanese-Americans, or Reagan’s to authorize NSA’s spying powers? How did he feel about Nixon’s freezing of wages and prices and its effects on the economy? What about Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, Truman’s desegregation of the military, Eisenhower’s desegregation of schools or Kennedy’s establishment of the Peace Corps?
Does Boehner consider these EOs an abuse of executive authority?
Despite the preponderance of seemingly overreaching executive orders, the Supreme Court has overturned only three: Truman’s seizing of the steel industry, Clinton’s not wanting federal pay to go to strike breakers and Obama’s not-really-recess judicial appointments.
So, does Boehner seriously believe that the president’s use of executive orders concerning the minimum wage, health care, carbon emissions, LGBT rights and “dreamers” is more egregious than internment camps, seizing the steel industry, diverting U.S. funds or denying defendant rights? Wouldn’t the speaker’s time be better spent trying to legislate than litigate?
Oh, wait, he can’t. Then he might break the record of the least-productive Congress in U.S. history.