Paul Begala might call John Boehner's plan to sue President Obama "nutty," but he's right when he says, in a CNN opinion piece, that it could succeed:
Now, here's the depressing part: Boehner's sue first, ask questions later strategy just might work. Not because the suit has merit but because the Supreme Court has several activist Republican justices. They recently rewrote the First Amendment to declare that corporations have souls and thus have freedom of religion. Soon, I expect them to grant sainthood to Koch Industries.And Begala's basically right about this as well:
... progressives would do well to assume there is a method to Boehner's madness. The court's right wing plays a long game. Perhaps realizing that shifting demographics and a divided GOP will make it difficult to put a Republican back in the White House, they may seize on Boehner's lawsuit and use it to further crimp the power of the chief executive.I don't agree that "a divided GOP" is going to be a problem for the party in 2016 (the angry base will rally around Jeb Bush as surely as they'd rally around Ted Cruz); I agree, however, that many Republicans recognize the Democrats' growing demographic advantage in presidential elections.
Unable to marshal the votes to get their legislative agenda through the Senate and unable to earn the votes to recapture the White House, it may be that the Republicans' strategy for the foreseeable future is to ignore their losses at the ballot box and leave the heavy lifting to the one place where five Republican votes can cancel out tens of millions of Americans' votes: the Supreme Court.
On the other hand, Republicans have the House gerrymandered to their liking right now, and that won't change until after the 2020 Census at the earliest. There's a good chance that the Senate will go Republican this year and stay Republican in 2016.
So if the Republican candidate does somehow win the presidency in 2016, he (I assume it will be a he) really might not need any of the executive powers the Supreme Court's right-wing majority (or lower-court right-wingers) could restrict as a result of this lawsuit. A Republican president in 2017 would just work in lockstep with a Republican Congress, methodically ticking off every item on the plutocrat, neocon, gun-nut, and theocrat wish lists.
At least I'm sure that's the thinking -- the courts will handcuff both the current Democratic president and a successor who's a Democrat, but not a successor who's a Republican.
But what about the future? What about a time several presidencies from now, when there might be a Democratic Congress, and a Republican president who wants executive power to sidestep that Congress? Well, I'd assume that this future GOP president will just seize executive power and dare the courts to deny his or her right to do so. Hey, Republicans do tend to get away with that, don't they?