In a seriously shrewd set of moves befitting the author of “The Art of the Deal” President Trump has notched some court wins in an interesting way. He simply ran out the clock.
If He’s Ahead When The Clock Hits Zero… He still wins right?
According to a story in The Hill, Trump left office with numerous cases against him and his administration still in dispute. This, legal experts are saying was a calculated move to run out the clock and avoid rulings on his policies while in office. That’s one way to deal with activist Judges.. ignore them until they just go away. He still wins.
Steven Schwinn, a law professor at the University of Illinois said,
“The administration foot-dragged and played the courts in very different ways in these cases, But the bottom line was always the same: drag these disputes out in court and effectively achieve their policy goals.”
It Only Works If The Courts Allow It
Mark Tushnet. a Harvard Law Professor threw the blame straight back at the Judges in each case, “Sometimes the claims about Trump’s actions had some weak spots, Maybe not enough to lead to an inevitable defeat for Trump, but enough to take up time in litigating.”
Trump couldn’t have done this though without judges who were willing to let the disputes drag on, said Tushnet.
“Any litigant, not just Trump, can file motions and the like with the intent to slow the pace of litigation down,” he said. “But they can succeed only if the courts are willing to go along. Litigators know that slow-walking things is always possible,” he said. “Whether other presidents try the same tactics will depend upon their sense of political and personal responsibility.”
Simply put, it seems that President Trump didn’t feel a pressing responsibility to answer politically motivated litigation. His response was as cynical as the legal efforts themselves merited.
The Trump Administration was granted 17 emergency stays by the courts in response to the 29 requested in his first 3 years according to a New York Times opinion piece by University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck. A number of those stays were still in effect when the President’s term ended, therefore they are unlikely to be ruled upon.
An Unprecedented Response to Unprecedented Legal Warfare
President Trump’s administration has been sued more times than any other in US History. A database on State litigation and AG activity from Marquette University by Dr. Paul Nolette shows that Trump and Co. were sued a total of 156 times up to 2020. Of those cases 60 were still pending as of January 2020, it is likely that many of these were unresolved as of January 20th this year. Predictably the majority of cases (110) were led by AG’s from California and New York.
Plain and simple, the courts were employed as a weapon against the Trump administration, the President and his team litigated more than any other administration ever has and in the end, the clock ran out. It could be true that this was a deliberate strategy, but the more likely scenario and the simpler (Occam’s razor) is that they simply ran out of time to litigate all of the pending cases. A wins a win though, right?