Constitutional Law

BakerHostetler to represent the House in its suit against Obama; contract pays $500 an hour


The U.S. House of Representatives has hired BakerHostetler to sue President Obama for allegedly overstepping his powers by taking executive actions said to revise the health-care law.

The lead lawyer named in the contract is BakerHostetler partner David Rivkin, who outlined the legal theory supporting a lawsuit in a Wall Street Journal op-ed (sub. req.) published on July 30. The National Journal, the Hill’s Floor Action blog and the Washington Post’s Post Politics blog have stories.

Rivkin and his co-author, Florida International University law professor Elizabeth Price Foley, said in the op-ed that a suit is needed to protect the separation of powers and the president’s constitutional duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

The contract (PDF) pays a blended hourly rate of $500 for attorney time and caps compensation at $350,000 for work until a federal court renders a final, appealable judgment. The deal also provides that law firm partners and employees will not speak with the media about any aspect of the agreement or the litigation absent express written approval of the House general counsel.

The contract was signed by the House general counsel and by the chair of the House Committee on Administration. Rivkin declined to answer questions about the contract, deferring to the Administration Committee, the National Journal says.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., criticized the lawsuit as a waste of “time and taxpayer dollars,” according to the Post Politics account.

“We finally know that Republicans have handed a $500-an-hour, no-bid contract to a Washington law firm for a lawsuit that lays the groundwork for impeachment and rallies the most extreme elements of the Republican Party,” Pelosi said.

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