John Boehner

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John Boehner (b. 1948; pronounced BAY-ner), a U.S. Representative (Republican from Ohio's 8th Congressional District), is the Speaker of the House, following the Republican victory in the 2010 election. Elected from a state legislature and a background in small business, he emphasizes smaller, more accountable government. "He has challenged Republicans in the 111th Congress to be not just the party of “opposition,” but the party of better solutions to the challenges facing the American people.[1]

While he certainly will make strong statements for the Republican base, he has demonstrated the ability to work with Democrats, and form strong friendships. Besides being Catholic, he and the late Ted Kennedy had little in common, but the two always sponsored a fundraising dinner for Catholic schools. When he chaired the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee, considered among the most partisan in Congress, he worked closely with then-ranking minority member Rep. George Miller (D-California (U.S. state)) to create the No Child Left Behind Act, bringing him to early meetings with President George W. Bush.[2] He has, however, also filed a personal lawsuit against Rep. Jim McDermott (R-Washington).

After the 2010 election

He continues to promote a position of cooperation, which does not resonate with a number of the extremely conservative freshman Representatives elected in 2010, often with Tea Party movement support. The Washington Post reported that he supports a new set of rules for the operation of the House, which will include giving the Democratic minority more opportunity to be heard and would mandate a 72-hour review period for all bills. In a letter to Republicans, he wrote "If I am fortunate enough to serve as Speaker of the House, we will run a much different kind of Congress - one that is humbler, more transparent, and respects the will and intelligence of the people."[3]

House Minority Leader



Education has been a personal cause. In 1994, working with Rep. Dick Armey (R-TX), he secured passage of legislation allowing school districts pay for public school choice programs, under which parents could choose which public school their children would attend. Later, as chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, he co-wrote the bill establishing the first private school choice program in the District of Columbia, and worked with Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) to ensure parental choice provisions were included in the bipartisan No Child Left Behind Act to reinforce its goal of bringing greater accountability to taxpayer-funded education programs.

Social services

In 2006, Boehner authored the Pension Protection Act, the most sweeping reform of America's pension laws in more than 30 years, which the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said “will make it possible for millions of Americans to save more now for a better future.”

He has strongly opposed government-run health care. In a commentary for the Detroit News, Boehner joined another Michigan Republican, Rep. Dave Camp, to call the Democrats' proposal "a government-run monstrosity that increases costs, reduces quality and forces as many as 114 million Americans off their current plans, according to one independent analysis."[4]

On November 5, 2009, he appeared with Michele Bachmann (R-Wisconsin) at the "Kill the Bill" Rally. He said "This bill is the greatest threat to freedom that I have seen."[5]

Foreign policy

He supported the Iraq War enabling resolution and rejected the Iraq Study Group report.

Early House career

During his freshman year, Boehner and fellow members of the reform-minded “Gang of Seven" took on the House establishment and successfully closed the House Bank, uncovered "dine-and-dash" practices at the House Restaurant, and exposed drug sales and cozy cash-for-stamps deals at the House Post Office. He also adopted and has kept a personal “no earmarks” policy.

He became part of the leadership House Republican Conference, and was involved in drafting the Contract with America, a 100-day agenda for the 104th Congress that dominated the 1994 elections. Closely allied with Newt Gingrich, he was forced out of the House leadership in 1999 after losses in 1998.[2] Since 1999, he has been involved in a complex legal battle with Rep. Jim McDermott (R-Washington (U.S. state)), which was sent back to the appeals court, in 2009, by the Supreme Court of the United States by a related case, Bartnicki v. Vopper.[6] It is quite unusual for members of Congress to sue one another. The case involves disclosure of a cell phone call among Republican leaders discussing strategy to deal with ethics charges against Gingrich. Boehner was a participant in the call.

Boehner v. McDermott[7] differs in that McDermott, who received and disclosed an illegally intercepted cell phone call, was not acting in a press role, but obtained the material as a member of the House Committee on Ethics, in which he had a duty not to disclose information. McDermott obtained the tape and shared it with news media including the New York Times and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who published stories, not naming the source. When McDermott was named as the media's source, he gave the tape to the House Ethics Committee and resigned from it.

Boehner sued in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking damages for disclosure of an illegally intercepted communication. According to the New York Times, he said,

When you break the law in pursuit of a political opponent, you’ve gone too far. Members of Congress have a responsibility not only to obey the laws of our country and the rules of our institution, but also to defend the integrity of those laws and rules when they are violated.[8]

On his website, McDermott describes this as a First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution issue. " As you may know, for over nine years I have been fighting to protect the First Amendment in a legal case brought against me by another Member. With the First Amendment—free speech and freedom of the press—at stake, the issue is of utmost importance, and it has attracted significant attention. (Almost 20 major news organizations have joined to support my position.)"[9]

In the Bartnicki case, the Court held when a media outlet lawfully obtains information from a third party, publication by the press is protected by the First Amendment. This applies even if the information had been obtained illegally, as, in this case, by an intercept and disclosure of a cell phone call, in violation of the Communications Act of 1934. The court held "[i]n this case, privacy concerns give way when balanced against the interest in publishing matters of public importance."[10]

After losing his role in the leadership, he turned to the House Administration Committee. In September 1999, as Vice-Chairman of the House Administration Committee, he joined House leaders to announce the first-ever "clean" independent audit of the House, a reform he first called for as a member of the Gang of Seven in 1992.

Early career

Upon his graduation, he accepted a position with Nucite Sales, a small sales business in the packaging and plastics industry, and eventually became president of the firm. While working in the private sector, he first was elected as Union Township trustee from 1982 to 1984 and then as a representative to the Ohio state legislature from 1984 to 1990.


  • Bachelor’s degree in business from Xavier University in Cincinnati in 1977.


  1. John Boehner, U.S. House of Representatives
  2. 2.0 2.1 John Boehner,, a Washington Post company
  3. Shailagh Murray and Perry Bacon Jr. (5 November 2010), "GOP deciding which direction to go with new authority after midterm victory", Washington Post
  4. Boehner, John and Dave Camp, "Reform Health Care without Government Takeover", The Detroit News, July 14, 2009
  5. Laurie Kellman (5 November 2009), "'Kill the bill' protesters target health care", Associated Press
  6. 532 U.S. 514 (2001) [1]
  7. 191 F.3d 463 (1999)
  8. Michael Schoepf (October 21, 2009), "Full D.C. Circuit Rules McDermott Had No First Amendment Right to Leak Phone Tape Due to Ethics Committee Rules", Silha Bulletin
  9. First Amendment, Rep. Jim McDermott
  10. Eric David (1 December 2009), "Publication of Hacked Climate Emails Raises Legal, Policy Questions", Newsroom Law Blog