Boehner vs. Obama: A ‘Precursor’ to Impeachment?
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The Fiscal Times
July 9, 2014

Sarah Palin on Tuesday became the latest conservative Republican voice to call for President Obama’s impeachment, arguing in an op-ed on Breitbart that the flood of young illegal immigrants from Central America crossing into the U.S. is “the last straw that makes the battered wife say, ‘no mas.’”

Despite similar calls from Tea Party groups, the South Dakota Republican Party and a handful of members of Congress including Oklahoma Sens.  James Inhofe and Tom Coburn, many political observers believe this fledgling campaign is far-fetched and could take the GOP down a ruinous political road again as it did after the GOP-controlled House impeached former Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1998.

Related: Power Struggle Rekindles Risky Talk of Impeachment

But in the politically poisonous atmosphere of the bitterly gridlocked Congress, almost nothing is totally out of the realm of possibility. And as liberal Harvard legal scholar Laurence H. Tribe noted in an interview this week with The Fiscal Times, House Speaker John Boehner’s threat to sue Obama for executive overreach could well be “a precursor to an impeachment effort if they [the Republicans] win the Senate, which it looks like to me.”

Late last month, Boehner told reporters he would file a lawsuit against Obama on behalf of the House over the president’s frequent use of executive orders and other actions that Republicans contend far exceed his legal authority. Although the speaker has yet to itemize those complaints, many Republicans have expressed outrage over his go-it-alone immigration policies, unilateral changes in the Affordable Care Act’s implementation deadline, and his decision to swap five Taliban prisoners for U.S. Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl – a suspected deserter – without first informing Congress.

Tribe, one of the foremost constitutional experts in the country, said it would be difficult to evaluate Boehner’s prospects for prevailing in court without seeing the complaint. But he said that it is “certainly not unimaginable” that the House would have standing to bring a law suit charging the president with circumventing his authority.

Related: Obama Practically Dares Boehner to Sue Him

Boehner and his lawyers would have to develop very specific complaints against the president that far exceed a “generalized complaint” that Obama has been issuing too many “signing statements” putting his spin on new law, or that the president has insulted the integrity of the House by “taking too aggressive a view of executive authority.”

Yet Tribe – who taught constitutional law to Obama and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts at Harvard Law School years ago, said there is ample reason to think that Boehner’s threatened court case “is a dress rehearsal for something more dramatic and more politically explosive if the Senate changes hands in November” and the Republicans retain control of the House, as many assume.

The Fiscal Times reported last week that while the Speaker insisted impeachment was not on the table, many Republican and Tea Party activists believe there are ample grounds for the House to impeach the president.

Related: Why Obamacare As We Know It May Not Survive

The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake points out that Palin – the former Alaska governor, the GOP’s vice presidential candidate in 2008 and a best-selling author – is “the first Republican of any significant national stature to make this call” for Obama’s impeachment.

Moreover, he writes, Palin is “the kind of figure who could potentially recruit others to the cause — people who will want to be heard,” although Palin doesn’t wield as much influence in her party as she once did.

“Without borders, there is no nation,” Palin wrote this week in calling for impeachment.  “Obama knows this. Opening our borders to a flood of illegal immigrants is deliberate. This is his fundamental transformation of America. It’s the only promise he has kept.”

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Washington Editor and D.C. Bureau Chief Eric Pianin is a veteran journalist who has covered the federal government, congressional budget and tax issues, and national politics. He spent over 25 years at The Washington Post.