#ADVOCACY 101 – Can they sue the President!?

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The United States government is built as a system of “checks and balances.” Checks and balances. From the moment we memorize the three branches of American government, we learn this phrase as a reason to breathe easy.

Fear not young elementary schooler, your founding fathers weren’t just fancy wig-wearers. They designed our government to work at keeping itself

in line. Checks and balances is what keeps us from becoming too centralized under executive power – yea, we’re looking at you, Russia. It’s also hopefully why an American president won’t ever be allowed to be photographed in Fabio-esque, rugged adventure garb (or lack thereof).

Just riding this horse topless, NBD.REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Pool/Alexei Druzhinin

Just riding this horse topless, NBD. REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Pool/Alexei Druzhinin

In all seriousness, though, the United States Supreme Court put it this way, “The Constitution protects us from our own best intentions: It divides power among sovereigns and among branches of government precisely so that we may resist the temptation to concentrate power in one location as an expedient solution to the crisis of the day.”

One time I ate my little sister’s candy bar. She had been saving it in her dresser for an after-dinner treat. But I was bigger than her and taller, and our parents weren’t home. It was wrong, but I did it anyway. When she cried and pouted, I said, “So sue me.”

When the President found himself unable to enforce the provisions of his Affordable Care Act, affectionately called “ObamaCare” to solidify responsibility, he made sweeping changes to the provisions. He viewed it as necessary step in getting the massive program “back on track.”

But what did the Constitution think?

Only Congress can make laws. Only Congress can decide to create sweeping measures that forego those laws. But Presidents have always done this type of thing. “So sue me.”

That’s exactly what the House of Representatives did. Yesterday, with a party-line vote of majority party in the House, Speaker John Boehner filed a federal suit against the President. It seeks “appropriate relief” for Obama’s failure to enforce the provision of the Affordable Care Act that penalizes businesses for a failure to offer basic health care. It was federal law. The President doesn’t make or amend laws in isolation, or at least not according to the Constitution.

While this is a move unprecedented (he he) in the history of American government, this type of thing happens quite a lot. States sue the Feds over jurisdiction. Even state legislators sue federal legislators over Constitutional rights.

Some pundits see it as political fodder, something to talk about on cable. Democrats are calling it an “impeachment carnival.” Still, House Republicans view this action as a necessary step in the preservation of individual rights and liberties. If the President can get away with ignoring the Constitution, it questions the integrity of branch power separation. It rattles the notion of checks and balances. And ask any fourth grader, checks and balances are pretty important.

Well, #Accidental Advocates, what do you think? Tweet us using #accidentaladvocate and join the conversation.

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