Government Law

Multistate lawsuits multiply against Trump, outpacing total filed against Obama in 8 years

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President Donald Trump. Photo by Albert H. Teich/

State attorneys general are increasingly banding together to challenge presidential actions by filing lawsuits.

The trend began during the Obama administration and accelerated after President Donald Trump took office, USA Today reports. So far, 71 multistate lawsuits have been filed over Trump’s actions, according to Paul Nolette, a political science professor at Marquette University who tracks the lawsuits.

The number of multistate lawsuits filed so far against Trump is twice the number filed against President Barack Obama during his second term, when the spike in such lawsuits started. In his first two years in office, Trump has faced more multistate challenges than either Obama or President George W. Bush did during their respective eight years in office, Nolette told USA Today.

“Now, the Democrats are suing over basically everything,” Nolette said. “They challenge almost every major thing that comes out.”

Policies by Obama and Trump were more vulnerable to legal challenges because they used executive power when Congress didn’t act, Nolette pointed out.

Trump is also attracting lawsuits because he quickly pushed through regulatory changes, making them vulnerable to challenges under the Administrative Procedure Act, according to former Maine Attorney General James Tierney, a lecturer at Harvard Law School.

Tierney pointed to another factor spurring the lawsuits—a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision that held that the Environmental Protection Agency had to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles if the agency determined that the gases endangered public health and welfare. Massachusetts and 11 other states had filed the suit.

The decision gave states the authority to challenge the federal government in ways that other governmental units and groups cannot, Tierney told USA Today.

Tierney foresees more trouble ahead for Trump. He thinks the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report could include details of possible state law violations that will be pursued by state attorneys general.

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