Already, at least one Republican has fallen right into President Obama’s hands.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) announced Friday that he plans to sue the president for issuing an executive order blocking deportations of some young immigrants.
“I expect to bring a lawsuit against the president of the United States to suspend his executive order,” King told the Des Moines Register. He made similar comments to Mike Huckabee in a radio interview, noting that he successfully sued then-Gov. Tom Vilsack in 1999 over an executive order that barred discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender government employees.
That’s a fight the White House undoubtedly wants — between an administration attempting to help young immigrants who were raised in the United States and a Republican Party bent on stopping him.
Republicans will argue that it’s an abuse of executive power, but Obama and his supporters can easily point out that George W. Bush used the same power frequently.
By taking a high-profile stance on immigration, Obama draws out lawmakers like King, who recently compared immigrants to dogs.
As both parties look to woo Hispanic voters, Obama’s policy shift will likely give him a boost not just because of what he did but because of how the other side reacts.
As for the merits of a potential lawsuit, legal experts are skeptical.
“I don’t see much chance at all that this is something that is going to be successfully litigated,” said Dr. Ken Mayer, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who studies executive orders. He compared the move to a pardon or a veto. “Just about everybody from the left or right agrees that this is something at the core of executive discretion.”
Jeffrey Toobin, a legal analyst for CNN, agreed.
“If Obama was actively defying an act of Congress, that would a constitutional confrontation,” he said. “But I don’t think you can assert that this is actively defying the law. This is simply applying it with [Obama’s] discretion as the executive.”