The Corner

Senator Ron Johnson Appealing Decision that Dismissed His Lawsuit Against President Obama

Senator Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) said he will file an appeal today regarding his lawsuit against the president that a judge dismissed last month because of Johnson’s lack of standing. Johnson’s lawsuit challenges the president’s effort to force lawmakers and their staff off of the federal employee health benefit plan and into the new Obamacare exchanges.

Writing in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Johnson noted that his suit was thrown out because of a lack of standing, and asked, “If a member of Congress does not have standing in this case, who does?” Johnson questioned the court’s ability to deny him standing, saying that it threatened the rule of law if the legislative branch cannot use the courts to force the president to execute the laws. “After all, it affected my health insurance, required me to take action to designate my staff and provided special treatment that drove a wedge between me and my constituents,” Johnson wrote. “It denied me — as a member of Congress and employer of staff — the legal status that Congress thought essential for each of its members and those who work for them.”

In his dismissal of Johnson’s lawsuit, District Court Judge William Griesbach wrote that, “In sum, the fact that the allegations advanced in this action might be difficult or even impossible to pursue in federal court for any other plaintiffs does not mean that these Plaintiffs have suffered the kind of injury that could give rise to standing.” And not everyone who agrees with Johnson’s larger point about President Obama’s lawlessness agrees with Johnson’s method. Writing in NRO earlier this year, Andy McCarthy argued that Johnson’s lawsuit is “frivolous.” “It is no more constitutionally proper or practical for a legislator to sue the president over a public-policy dispute than for the president to violate valid laws,” McCarthy wrote. Even if a court granted Johnson standing, McCarthy said, the court would need to direct the president to enforce its ruling against the president. McCarthy said he did not see much chance of this happening, and Obama complying, given Obama’s status as an “equal opportunity outlaw” who undermines both the courts and the law.  

Despite such criticisms, Johnson seems undeterred and intent on pursuing legal action against the president. He wrote that he found hope in the words of Griesbach’s dismissal of his lawsuit, because he believes Griesbach recognized the gravity of his allegations. Johnson said he thinks his case continues to be a landmark opportunity to address the “constitutional tipping point” at which the country has found itself, and plans to exhaust every legal resource possible.  

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