At high court and others, Trump reverses legal course

September 29, 2017

At high court and others, Trump reverses legal course

U.S. News & World Report

Backing employers over employees. Backing the state of Ohio over groups involved in voter registration. Backing a narrow reading of a sexual discrimination law over a broad one.

Those are just some of the legal about-faces President Donald Trump's administration is making at the Supreme Court and in lower courts.

The Trump administration has found itself in court defending a variety of new policies: the president's travel ban, the phasing out of a program protecting young immigrants, and the revisiting of a policy that had allowed transgender individuals to serve openly in the military. But it's also dealing with lawsuits that were in progress before the president took office — and asserting positions different from those of the Obama administration.

The justices will soon consider a case in which the government now supports a method Ohio uses to remove people from voter rolls. When the case was being heard in a federal appeals court, the Obama administration argued that the method, which puts someone on the path to being removed from the rolls if they haven't voted for two years, violates federal law.

Samuel Bagenstos, IHPI member, U-M law professor and former Justice Department official, called the switch in a longstanding position "stunning" because it reversed a view held for more than 20 years by Republican and Democratic administrations alike.

While the highest-profile shifts in position may be those at the Supreme Court, the administration has also altered course in cases at lower-level courts. In cases about pollution-control rules put in place by the Obama administration, the Trump administration has asked for pauses in the litigation so the rules can be re-evaluated, said Pat Gallagher, the director of the Sierra Club's environmental law program.

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