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Constitutional lawyers tussled over the merits of a planned Republican-led lawsuit against President Barack Obama on Wednesday, as Democrats continued to dismiss the suit as frivolous and a political stunt.

Attorneys in support of the suit told the House Rules Committee that Obama has overstepped his Constitutional authority by unilaterally modifying the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. It is a recent illustration of the long-term shift of power from Congress to the executive branch, they said.

“At some point this body has to take a stand and try to realign these branches,” said George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley. “If it doesn’t I think this system is going to change in a very significant, and in my view, dangerous way.”

Democratic witnesses warned that the proposed litigation would give too much power to the courts and open the door to almost limitless possibilities for different bodies of government to sue each other.

“It would create a mess on a scale that is hard for any of us to even think about,” said Simon Lazarus, an attorney of the Constitutional Accountability Center.

Obama has called the suit a “political stunt” and said executive actions were necessary because Republicans have been unwilling to work with him.


-- Andrew Rafferty