Did John Boehner Violate the Law by Inviting Netanyahu to Address Congress?

House GOP leader John Boehner (OH) made headlines in multiple countries with the announcement that he had asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress just weeks before the Israeli election.


President Obama and Secretary Kerry have already announced they will not meet with him, as it is a breach of diplomatic protocol for an Israeli leader to visit Congress without first talking to the president. But Boehner may have run afoul of more than protocol – he may have also violated the law itself.

The Logan Act, passed in 1799 and amended in 1904, states that no citizen of the United States can act on behalf of the United States government without its explicit approval. Boehner, as a Member of Congress, is not authorized to conduct foreign policy dealings that are explicitly the purview of the executive branch.

While there have been no prosecutions under this law, the right was insistent that Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) violated in when she went to visit with Syrian President Bashar Assad in 2007.Although Boehner did not make that charge against Pelosi, he did say the only reason she carried out the visit was to “embarrass the president.”

If the right thought Pelosi visiting the Syrian president in Syria was a possible violation of the law, how can it justify Boehner explicitly coordinating with a foreign leader to address Congress to change U.S. policy?

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