Last January, a Washington attorney named David Rivkin co-authored an article in Politico Magazine that laid out a legal theory that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) now plans to use to sue President Obama because the president is not implementing Obamacare fast enough. Yet, as ThinkProgress laid out shortly after Boehner announced that he would file the lawsuit, Rivkin’s legal theory rests upon “a glaring misrepresentation of a recent Supreme Court decision that undermines much of the basis for this lawsuit.”
Nevertheless, Boehner decided to hire Rivkin to represent the GOP-led House in its suit against the president. Rivkin’s price? $500 an hour, all charged to the American taxpayer.
The contract caps Rivkin’s fees at a total of $350,000, although, if past is prologue, this cap will rise quickly. During the litigation challenging the Defense of Marriage Act, Boehner hired former Solicitor General Paul Clement to defend anti-gay discrimination at a fee of $520 per hour. Although an early iteration of Clement’s contract capped his total fees at $500,000, the total cost of Boehner’s legal services rose to $2.3 million. Clement’s legal fees were also charged to the American taxpayer.
However much money Rivkin ultimately collects from the American people, he is unlikely to win his lawsuit if the judges who consider it follow existing law. As a general rule, a plaintiff bringing a lawsuit must have actually been injured in some way by the person they are suing. Neither Boehner nor any other member of Congress, however, has been injured by President Obama’s decision to delay implementation of the provision of the Affordable Care Act at issue in this case. Additionally, in a 1997 case called Raines v. Byrd, the Supreme Court explained that suits brought by members of Congress alleging that their institutional rights as lawmakers have been injured are highly discouraged.