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Against the über-presidency: Minnesota Republicans vote to sue Obama

REUTERS/Larry Downing
Republicans claim President Obama exceeded his constitutional authority by delaying implementation of sections of the Affordable Care Act.

“It’s tough for the legislative body to, one, pass laws in the first place, but then once they’re enacted, you’ve got an executive that might ignore parts of the law,” he said. “Well how does Congress respond? What authority do we have? It’s kind of a gray area in a lot of respects, but I think all presidents, there’s been more of a creep over time of more exertion outside of their ability under the Constitution.”

Rep. John Kline

“While members of Congress have sued the president many times in the past, this is the first time where we’ve done in what I think is the right way,” he said. “We’re going to come together and vote in the House, and so the House can bring suit with standing, and it will be interesting to see it unfold.”

“I think it’s certainly a warning to any future president to stick within the bounds of the Constitution,” Paulsen said. “So this all kind of blends together, where Congress kind of pushes back against the president, no matter who is the president.”

Bachmann: defund and impeach lower-level officials

Bachmann voted to authorize the lawsuit, but she takes a fairly dim view on its overall usefulness. She said it’s unlikely to give House members the resolution they want — it’s possible the case won’t have standing in court, she said, and even if it does, the courts could take a long time to decide the case.

Rep. Michele Bachmann

House members should do more to respond to Obama, Bachmann said. Congress has the power of the purse, so she said lawmakers could defund sections of the government that carry out administrative actions Republicans believe to be improper, she said.

Bachmann also suggested the House consider impeaching members of the Obama administration who oversee those actions, but not Obama himself. She said it’s implausible to imagine the Senate removing Obama even if the House passes articles of impeachment, so House members should look to impeach officials under him instead (the impeachment process — the House impeaches and the Senate convicts and removes — is the same for lower-level officials as it is for the president).

“What would be most effective to rein in a lawless president would be to defund his initiatives and bring about impeachment proceedings against lower-level federal officials,” she said. “I don’t believe we should bring about impeachment against the president of the United States, because we do not have the power of removal.”

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Rep. Erik Paulsen

“Certainly Democrats have made it a stunt by raising money, or using it as a political issue,” he said. “I don’t think it’s political at all. If it’s political, Republicans would have acted on it right after the last election. But I think [leadership has] been much more measured in terms of the response.”

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Comments (50)

  1. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/31/2014 - 11:13 am.

    Where to begin?

    This lawsuit is such a heap of bovine ordure that one scarcely knows where to begin.

    We could start with Rep. Paulsen’s claim that the suit is not “political,” for if it were, “Republicans would have acted on it right after the last election.” Of course! There is nothing political in some vaudeville stunt being rolled out shortly before the midterms.

    There is Rep. Kline, grousing that only Democrats are talking about impeachment. Sir, if you are that clueless, maybe you shouldn’t be in Congress anymore.

    The biggest clue that the lawsuit is nothing but rubbish is that even Rep. Bachmann thinks it’s worthless (not so worthless as to merit a “no” vote, but still). She is absolutely right about the suit accomplishing nothing. No member of Congress can show that they, personally, were injured by anything the President did. It is a basic rule, learned the first week of law school, that you can’t bring a lawsuit if you haven’t been injured.

    The only fair outcome of this farce would be that Boehner, et al. pay the government’s legal fees, and pay them out of their personal funds (not donations from the faithful).

  2. Submitted by Bill Kahn on 07/31/2014 - 11:50 am.

    I’m sorry to burst the movement conservative bubble, but the House is not a branch of government; only with the Senate does the House constitute one of the three branches of our government.

    Alone, arrogant, and out of their f—ing minds, a House majority constitutes a gaggle of honking geese we need to spit and roast this November for foisting these turds upon our government and for showering us with the same through every communication medium.

    Kline and Paulson have to go. Minnesota used to be a sane voice in Congress and it can be so again. Let them try this sort of service on the job in the private sector.

    I know that folks consider it a forgone conclusion that the House will remain in Republican hands, but there has to be some common sense left in this country, at least enough to realize that there were only five reasonable Republicans voting in the House against this ridiculous lawsuit and none in our Congressional delegation.

    You expect a few odd balls from one state or another, but not a majority of them.

  3. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 07/31/2014 - 11:53 am.

    I too, think this is groundwork for an impeachment later, but it’s unnecessary.

    Ample grounds can be found within the IRS case, but it’s going to take some effort to find the evidence. There is no signed Obamaorder, directing the IRS to use it’s powers as a weapon, but that isn’t necessary to bring him to justice.
    Proven knowledge is tacit approval; it exists and will do nicely.

    I suggest the GOP wait until it has the necessary majorities next year, and get the job done right.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 07/31/2014 - 01:24 pm.

      Nothing like having that pesky evidence, eh?

      Imagining invisible controlling thought waves from the top of the executive branch to some IRS functionaries requires a leap of faith that fortunately is not yet considered proof.

      Keep on looking and hoping.

      • Submitted by Steve Hoffman on 08/07/2014 - 04:03 pm.


        “Evidence”, like most facts, is anathema to the current Republican/Teabagger party. Innuendo and outright lies have taken its place, fueled by the ever-reliable Fox “News” propaganda machine.

  4. Submitted by Rich Crose on 07/31/2014 - 12:00 pm.

    How are they paying for this?

    This is going to cost hard earned taxpayer money. Aren’t the Republicans the ones always demanding offsets? Maybe they could pay for it by raising taxes?

  5. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/31/2014 - 12:11 pm.

    How is this not the stupidist thing the republicans have done?

    Go for it I say… demonstrate republican irrelevance in and even bigger display of stupidity. And votes to repeal Obamacare a few more times while your at it.

    This is not groundwork for impeachment, nor could it possibly be. Again, the “Constitution” guys demonstrate they have no clue.

    • Submitted by carter meland on 07/31/2014 - 09:00 pm.


      Given their laser focus, Paulsen, Kline, Bachmann, et. al. must have missed the memo that Zellers issued at the debate the other day. “We’re all Republicans,” Zellers said. “We’re not going to go off on a tangent.”

  6. Submitted by Joseph Mish on 07/31/2014 - 12:15 pm.

    Who’s less popular than lawyers?

    Only the House of Representatives would turn to lawyers to boost their image.

  7. Submitted by Lance Groth on 07/31/2014 - 12:40 pm.


    If Obama has been aggressive in his use of executive authority, the House has only itself to blame. They have refused to work with the president on anything, or indeed, to do anything – least of all tend to the people’s business – other than hold endless, meaningless votes to repeal Obamacare. Boehner’s House is the most dysfunctional House in the history of the Republic, which is why their public approval rating hovers around 10-13%. They are only interested in the politics of attacking the president, which I suppose will please their shrinking base, but no one else. They are the living embodiment of the theater of the absurd.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 07/31/2014 - 10:52 pm.


      By refused to work with President, do you mean they didn’t agree to:
      – pardon people who violated our laws by illegally entering the USA
      – raise taxes further on more of us
      – raise spending even further
      – pass gay marriage when ~50% of the country is still against it
      – continue to pay extended unemployment benefits well beyond what the premiums funded
      – raise the minimum wage when ~50% of the country is against it
      – etc

      I am kind of thinking many Americans think the Conservatives are doing the right thing. We will know more this Fall.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/01/2014 - 09:19 am.


        1. Not sure what you mean by “pardon,” but that is a power reserved to the President. In any event, it is not a crime to enter the United States without permission.

        2. Tax levels increased on the wealthiest Americans with the approval of Congress, so once again, I have no idea what you mean.

        3. You do realize that Congress must approve the federal budget, right?

        4. You do realize that this is an endeavor for the states, right? You are also aware that the last Gallup Poll on this question shows that 55% of the people support legalizing same sex marriage, are you not?

        5. Again–something for Congress to do.

        6. The President increased the minimum wage only for federal contractors, so the wage itself has not increased. A CNN poll showed that 71% of the people surveyed favored raising the minimum wage. Some 52% said the increase should be to at least $10.10/hour. A survey of small business owners had 61% favoring a gradual increase to $10.10.

        I am kind of thinking you don’t talk to many Americans.

      • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 08/01/2014 - 09:24 am.

        Wait, what?

        Obama passed a federal gay-marriage law? Boy, I missed that one. Wait, Obama raised taxes? I thought the Bush tax cuts expired instead. Wait, all those central American children who are surrendering themselves to US Immigration authorities in accordance with an immigration law signed by George Bush in 2008 that is designed to curtail human trafficking ARE just getting pardoned and not put into a long legal queue for a review of their cases? I guess I WAS born yesterday!

        Oh yeah, you got cites for your 50% claims? Didn’t think so.

  8. Submitted by Curt Carlson on 07/31/2014 - 01:02 pm.

    A rhetorical question

    So the Republicans (including the “moderate” Erik Paulsen) are suing the President for not executing a law that they wish didn’t exist at all. Are they more stupid than they think their constituents are?

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 07/31/2014 - 03:22 pm.

      Wishes are not relevant, or admissible as evidence. The law is the law, Obama does not have the right to modify law through Exec orders. It’s not that difficult to understand.

      • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 07/31/2014 - 09:32 pm.

        How would you

        Know. LOL

        • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/01/2014 - 09:07 am.

          I’m addressing the Minnpost commentariat. I don’t bother bringing up topics that can’t be explained in the simplest of terms.

          Sometimes even that doesn’t work, I aver.

        • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/01/2014 - 09:46 am.

          Oh, everything I post here must be broken down in the simplest terms. If the censors can’t understand it, it gets spiked just in case.

          • Submitted by Brian Nelson on 08/01/2014 - 12:14 pm.

            Where was Republican outrage in early 2006…

            when George W. Bush took executive action to extend Medicare Part-D deadlines for seniors? This is more or less the same reason why congressional Republicans are suing Obama.

            • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/01/2014 - 02:27 pm.

              I was plenty outraged. Hope that helps.

              • Submitted by Brian Nelson on 08/01/2014 - 08:46 pm.

                I highly doubt your outrage, and…

                your good friends in the Republican congress don’t seem to remember their own nonchalance toward the “unitary executive.” Why no lawsuit then from Denny Hastert and company?

                Mr. Swift, it really is just about Republican political theater. You know that.

                • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/04/2014 - 10:25 am.

                  I doubt 99% of what I read on the Minnpost, but have found it hard to question how others say they feel about a topic; you’ve got quite a skill there.

                  It’s not just one incidence with Obama, it’s a pattern of arrogance and his display of complete disregard for the US Constitution that is fueling outrage among all thoughtful Americans. You might not have noticed, but even Democrats are working to throw him under his own bus these days.

                  • Submitted by jason myron on 08/05/2014 - 12:25 am.

                    Pattern of arrogance?

                    please…if he was a republican you’d be describing that as strength and bold leadership. And “thoughtful Americans” is code for the usual cast of Obama haters. Just curious, how many republicans were asking George Bush to stand next to them in the last ten years? Just kidding, we both know the answer…

      • Submitted by Curt Carlson on 08/03/2014 - 10:56 am.

        Signing statements

        So – executive orders regarding the execution of a law are off-limit, but the signing statements that GW used by the droves to justify his refusal to execute laws were just fine with you? Typical “libertarian” equivocation.

  9. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 07/31/2014 - 01:30 pm.


    Sue the executive branch because it delayed a provision of a law that Republicans wanted delayed or prevented in the first place.

    And then, if they win in a year or two, the delayed provision will be in full effect.

    And they’ll still be trying to remove health care from 11 million people.

  10. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 07/31/2014 - 01:30 pm.

    The Conservative Wing of the GOP

    You, know, the one where the feathers are falling off and the flesh is rotting,…

    can’t bring themselves to seek the things it would take to return them to health,…

    because they’re terrified that in doing so, they might have to face the fact that their ill health is the result of their sorry state of intellectual, moral, and spiritual bankruptcy which is completely of their own creation.

    So the GOP will continue to circle from its former heights down toward a catastrophic crash to earth,…

    a reality which looks more and more like a death wish on the part of conservatives,…

    a sort of “If we can’t convert this party to agree with what we believe must certainly be true (while being too fearful to actually consider any contrary evidence);…

    if we can’t have the GOP, then NOBODY can. Let it cease to exist.”

    They almost seem to have a similar attitude toward the US as a whole.

    Suing President Obama for doing exactly what they celebrated George W. Bush for doing, is just one more symptom of “conservative” rot and decrepitude.

  11. Submitted by John Clouse on 07/31/2014 - 02:00 pm.


    Statistics show that as of last week, the Obama White House had issued a total of 183 executive orders, G.W. Bush issued 291 in 8 years, Bill Clinton 364 and Reagan 381.

    Seems as though things are blown out of proportion, again.

  12. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 07/31/2014 - 02:00 pm.

    Look at it this way …

    During the campaign of 2012, Obama and his followers like Al Franken, repeatedly lied to the American people by telling us that if we liked our plan, we could keep our plan. That was a blatant lie to get re-elected because he knew that if the truth was known prior to the election, he and a bunch of other democrats would have been soundly defeated.

    Fast forward to 2014. The number of citizens affected by the poorly-designed and implemented Obamacare is relatively small, limited to self-employed people and others buying insurance via the individual market. Their premiums and deductibles are going through the roof, but there aren’t enough of them to turn an election on their own.

    The employer mandate will affect over 80% of the American working population. The cost of their employer-provided health insurance is in jeopardy of skyrocketing or being canceled altogether as employers decide whether they can even afford to offer health insurance to their employees.

    Knowing full-well that once this portion of the law is finally implemented, after being delayed for a year by a nervous Obama, the vast majority of the people in this country will be outraged and will be hunting down their democrat congressmen with torches and pitchforks.

    Obama’s solution? Delay the implementation until after the November elections and at least some of them will be able to keep their seats for another term.

    Watching the democrats try to pull off the same dishonest stunt as they did in 2012, some republicans in congress have figured they’d sue the president to force him to at least admit to the people that the tsunami is coming in 2015.

    I think it’s a wasted effort. They should wait until they control both houses of congress and then do their constitutional duty to spare the American people of any more nonsense from these totalitarians.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 07/31/2014 - 02:30 pm.

      Hey, if they were ” totalitarians”, they would just lock up or shoot their opponents.

      It’s a pathetic flip-flop that Republicans engage in–weekly changing from claims the “most incompetent administration” and “masterminds evilly scheming”.

      Why not admit it–the Republicans want totalitarianism, because they certainly have proved with Clinton and Obama that can’t accept their losses in elections.

      That’s how it goes, from “for the good of the country”, to dictatorship.

      Try reading a little of history.

      You might then grasp what totalitarianism is.

      Or maybe not.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 07/31/2014 - 04:01 pm.

      Thanks for the

      tin foil hat version, Dennis. Although the entire post is riddled with debunked, GOP rhetoric, I do love the tsunami reference. It brings me back to the other disasters that you’ve predicted here, all of which never materialized. Good times….

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 07/31/2014 - 10:30 pm.

      tsunami ?

      Obamacare premiums to rise a modest 4.2% in 2015

  13. Submitted by Rosalind Kohls on 07/31/2014 - 04:03 pm.

    Forget the lawsuit

    The House should cut off the money. King Obama is helpless if he doesn’t have the funds to pay his underlings to do his bidding. Those federal employees will not work for free.

  14. Submitted by Bill Coleman on 07/31/2014 - 04:32 pm.

    Enforcing “all the laws”

    A quick combing through the federal statutes would find thousands of laws that the federal government is not enforcing. Many of these laws, passed in an earlier era, would make no sense to enforce in 2014. The employer mandate of the ACA, made no sense to enforce this past year. Rulemaking was delayed (pick your own reasons for that); no one was ready for this law to be enforced.

    GW Bush was king of the signing statement, which in essence, tells Congress “I don’t care if you passed this law or not, I am telling you how I am going to enforce it.” I did not hear any objections from the GOP at that time.

    GW also did a poor job in enforcing environmental regulations, labor regulations, financial regulations and anything else that had “regulation” after it. Once again, no complaints from the GOP.

    At least when the individual congress members sued the president, I suspect that the individuals had to pay for it out of their own funds. I give them credit for that.

    I thought that Paulson was a moderate, but he is apparently as fruity as the rest of the GOP. Does he have a Tea Party challenger?

  15. Submitted by Steven Bailey on 07/31/2014 - 07:27 pm.

    Just insane

    Obama is by far the biggest disappointment I have ever voted for and it is just stunning that these “morans” in the republican party hate Obama so much. He is the best republican president that I know of. He has done things that no real Democrat would do like protect Wall Street crooks at any cost, blocking the Senate from investigating Rove under oath, he gives more to faith based groups than Bush did (after promising he would stop it), restarting nuclear power, opening the Atlantic coast to deep water drilling, issuing more permits in the Gulf after the BP disaster than Bush did before it, authorizing carrying weapons in national parks, spying on every American, etc. Obama is to the right of Reagan. Why all the republican hate

  16. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 07/31/2014 - 09:12 pm.


    Erik Paulsen subjects us to his Jim Ramstad themed campaign signs every election season and then votes with Michelle Bachmann in between elections. Ramstad had the courage and knowledge to reflect the position of his constituents, regardless of what leadership was whipping him to do. Erik, we knew Jim Ramstad, Jim Ramstad was a friend of ours, and you sir, are no Jim Ramstad. At least have the courage to get your own signs.

  17. Submitted by Robert Gauthier on 07/31/2014 - 10:08 pm.

    You clearly….

    Do not remember the Bush “signing statements” nullifying parts of laws. This is a partisan trick dreamed up by talk radio and TV, it is more of the echo chamber rabbit hole that Republicans live in today.

  18. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 08/01/2014 - 09:28 am.

    Mike McFadden’s position on impeachment

    I’ve read through Devin’s article a couple times and through the comments. I still don’t know what law or laws the Republicans think the President has broken. Compare this to the Bush-Cheney years where we have blatant criminal conduct by Bush and Cheney and their underlings. These were not only war crimes- we know they committed those- but other crimes, like perjury to a special prosecutor, illegal wiretapping and lying to Congress. Nixon was a small time crook compared to these two. Scooter Libby was convicted of committing perjury- something he did at the direction of Bush and Cheney. This was never even investigated by Congress. Of course, it was a Republican controlled House where Boehner was then serving as Majority Leader. Obviously, Boehner and his fellow Republicans have a real eye for Presidential wrongdoing when they see it.

    I don’t get the sense Republicans know or even care if Obama has actually violated any laws. Why should they? But I don’t understand why waste time with a groundless lawsuit if you have the votes for groundless impeachment? I do get this: there aren’t enough votes in the Senate to convict and remove Obama from his “royal throne” at the moment. Better to wait until after November. I think it’s time to start asking candidates like Mike McFadden where they stand on groundless impeachment. Because that and more wasting of time and money is clearly a priority on the Republican agenda for the next two years.

  19. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/01/2014 - 09:49 am.


    This actually just goes back to the fact that many of these Republicans just don’t believe in democracy. Over the decades they’ve increasingly sought ways to nullify elections that they lose. Options are running out now they’re getting desperate, and clownish. Republicans can’t remove Obama from office, and they can’t even muster enough votes within their own caucus to make or change laws most of the time, so this goofy lawsuit is all they’ve got. They just want to “be” in power so they can impose their will on the population, but the population doesn’t seem willing to vote for that.

  20. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/01/2014 - 09:52 am.

    By the way…

    Who pays for the House legal fees on this?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/01/2014 - 01:06 pm.

      Take a guess

      They aren’t holding a bake sale and car wash to pay for it, so guess who gets to foot the bill?

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/01/2014 - 02:23 pm.

        Same folks who are footing the ever growing bill for the failed attempts to repair the #MNSure debacle.

        • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 08/02/2014 - 11:13 am.


          What a debacle, we have more people with health insurance that at any previous time, a balanced state budget with a surplus, and job creation that leads all of our neighbors except the one with gas being flared off in order to maximize oil production. And conservatives have such a loose grip on reality that they have endorsed for Governor a candidate that says he is going to “Scott Walker Minnesota”. Results simply do not matter to these people, ideology trumps fact each and every time.

          • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/04/2014 - 10:44 am.

            Allow me to correct your typos

            What a debacle, we have less people paying for other’s health insurance that at any previous time, highest taxes in the nation fueling bloated state budget, and government job creation that leads all of our neighbors especially the one with a oil production boom. And leftists have such a loose grip on reality that they have endorsed for re-election to Governor a candidate that is in hiding, refusing to face the electorate’s pointed questioning about cost over runs and pending premium hikes to prop up his failed Obamacare program, and his Billion dollar gift to Zygi Wilf.

  21. Submitted by James Hamilton on 08/01/2014 - 12:16 pm.

    A well informed vote, obviously.

    “Details of the lawsuit — including what, specifically, it will ask the courts to do — haven’t been revealed yet, in part because GOP leadership wanted the House to vote to authorize the suit first.”

  22. Submitted by Jon Lord on 08/01/2014 - 12:42 pm.

    Just gotta say

    This bunch of RWNJ’s are really out there. Like many of said, they are still upset about Nixon getting caught and have been trying since then to find a reason to defray that blight by attacking with more and more irrational reasoning whenever a democrat is in office. Anybody remember Iran-Contra? Under Reagan? Now there was a reason for impeachment. And then Bush and Cheney with their non-existent WMD’s. They are trying hard to erase those blunders from the American memory by trying to take down a law that ‘helps’ most Americans. They are wasting our time and our money. The republicans have gone way past the point of absurdity…once again.

  23. Submitted by Richard Helle on 08/02/2014 - 07:39 am.

    Worst socialist ever

    This goes to show, Obama is the worst socialist ever.

  24. Submitted by Steve Hoffman on 08/03/2014 - 04:13 pm.

    Oh please.

    I was thinking “Oh boy, the Minnesota Republicans are embarrassing us again” but really, compared with Michele Bachmann’s daily froth and dribble, this is nothing. Maybe they’ll all go together. That would be nice.

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