Feb. 10, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

GOP Turns to Courts to Take On Obama

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rice is seeking House authorization to launch a lawsuit against the administration on behalf of the institution. So far, his authorizing resolution, has 42 GOP co-sponsors.

Republicans are bringing their objections to Obama administration policies to a courtroom near you.

It doesn’t seem to be a concerted strategy, but rather an outgrowth of the use of executive actions that they oppose. Only controlling the House of Representatives, prospects for legislation to block the regulations are not good.

“I’ve never been a big fan of lawsuits. Normally you should be able to settle disputes between the branches using the various powers each branch has, but I’ve signed on to a few including the recess appointments,” Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said. “There’s a very, very strong pushback among the American people concerning the president’s executive orders. They feel like he passed Obamacare, then he just amends the law without Congress. I hear that all the time.”

The recess appointments matter looks to be a landmark case on executive powers. It will be argued before the highest court in the land on Monday.

That morning, lawyer Miguel Estrada will appear at the Supreme Court representing the interests of Senate Republicans in a case challenging the constitutionality of recess appointments made by President Barack Obama. Senate Republicans filed an amicus brief and have been granted 15 minutes to make their case in the dispute between the National Labor Relations Board and Noel Canning.

Estrada, a nominee of President George W. Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit who was blocked from confirmation by Democrats, may not be the only prominent appellate litigator representing the interests of GOP lawmakers in actions against the administration.

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul has launched an effort to sue the National Security Agency to contest the bulk collection of phone records as part of National Security Agency surveillance efforts, and Republican Sen. Ron Johnson filed a lawsuit in federal court in his home state of Wisconsin against the Office of Personnel Management’s decision to allow members and staff to maintain employer contributions to their health insurance when they transitioned from the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan to the District of Columbia’s Obamacare exchange.

Both senators are seeking campaign and political contributions to fund the legal challenges.

Johnson said Friday he did not expect the number of lawsuits to balloon, however.

“The opportunities to do these things are pretty limited, and I think that’s properly so. I mean, I don’t think members of Congress should be running to court all the time, and generally they would fail because they don’t have standing,” Johnson said. “This is a very unique situation where I think a member of Congress actually can show harm.

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