Federal judges have ruled against the Trump administration at least 63 times over the past two years, an extraordinary record of legal defeat that has stymied large parts of the president’s agenda on the environment, immigration and other matters.
In case after case, judges have rebuked Trump officials for failing to follow the most basic rules of governance for shifting policy, including providing legitimate explanations supported by facts and, where required, public input.
Many of the cases are in early stages and subject to reversal. For example, the U.S. Supreme Court permitted a version of President Trump’s ban on travelers from certain predominantly Muslim nations to take effect after lower-court judges blocked the travel ban as discriminatory.
But whether or not the administration ultimately prevails, the rulings so far paint a remarkable portrait of a government rushing to implement sweeping changes in policy without regard for long-standing rules against arbitrary and capricious behavior.
“What they have consistently been doing is short-circuiting the process,” said Georgetown Law School’s William W. Buzbee, an expert on administrative law who has studied Trump’s record. In the regulatory cases, Buzbee said, “They don’t even come close” to explaining their actions, “making it very easy for the courts to reject them because they’re not doing their homework.”
Rudy Giuliani can’t seem to get the law right. The president’s lawyer suggested Monday on CNN and Fox News that Donald Trump didn’t commit a crime even if he colluded with Russians during the 2016 campaign by encouraging them to hack Hillary Clinton’s email server. “I don’t even know if that’s a crime, colluding about Russians,” Giuliani put it. “You start analyzing the crime – the hacking is the crime. The president didn’t hack. He didn’t pay them for hacking.”
A divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that businesses can prohibit their workers from banding together in disputes over pay and conditions in the workplace, a decision that affects an estimated 25 million non-unionized employees.
With the court’s five conservative members in the majority, the justices held that individual employees can be forced to use arbitration, not the courts, to air complaints about wages and overtime. Four dissenting liberal justices said the decision will hit low-wage, vulnerable workers especially hard.
While the complaints in Monday’s decision involved pay issues, the outcome also might extend to workplace discrimination and other disputes if employee contracts specify that they must be dealt with in one-on-one arbitration.
Workers who want to take action against sexual harassment, pay discrimination, pregnancy discrimination and racial discrimination “may now be forced behind closed doors into an individual, costly – and often secret – arbitration process,” said Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center.