BOEHNER WANTS TO PUNISH THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT…. A couple of months ago, the Obama administration announced that it no longer considers the Defense of Marriage Act constitutional, and would stop defending the law against court challenges. Soon after, Rep. Steve King (R) of Iowa said he wanted to cut the Justice Department’s budget as punishment.

Of course, King’s an unhinged culture warrior, who no one really respects or takes seriously. Indeed, there’s evidence his own caucus leaders consider him something of an embarrassment. His call for DoJ punishment was generally ignored, aside from occasional eye-rolling, which is as it should be.

It’s why House Speaker John Boehner’s decision to go down the same road is so disconcerting.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said Monday that he wants to cut the Justice Department’s funding because the Obama administration has decided not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

“Obviously, DOJ’s decision results in DOJ no longer needing the funds it would have otherwise expended defending the constitutionality of DOMA,” Boehner wrote in a letter to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). “It is my intent that those funds be diverted to the House for reimbursement of any costs incurred by and associated with the House, and not DOJ, defending DOMA.”

This is deeply silly, and unbecoming of the nation’s most powerful Republican. As Boehner sees it, there are attorneys who would have worked on the DOMA case who’ll now work on other cases. The Speaker of the House apparently intends to figure out how much money the department would have spent defending the discriminatory anti-gay law, and then cut that amount from the agency’s budget.

I know Boehner has to hate gays, hate spending, and hate the Obama administration, and a foolish gesture like this one helps him to do all three at the same time.

But the administration’s move on this just isn’t that unusual, and no Congress has ever sought to punish federal law enforcement because its attorneys will work on one case rather than another.

In fact, the Speaker’s move is so absurd, I have to wonder if there’s something else going on here. After the budget deal met with far-right disapproval, is Boehner scrambling to make right-wing activists happy?

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.