Will Trump break record for most litigious president in U.S. history?

2017-03-02 10:59Xinhua Editor: Gu Liping ECNS App Download

Newly elected U.S. President Donald Trump was to rewrite the American political playbook by engaging the legal system more than any president in U.S. History, analysts predicted.

Legal experts told Xinhua in recent interviews that by late February about 100 lawsuits on the federal level would have been filed against America's 45th president.

"It's such an irony that Trump uses more legal muscle than any president ever," noted Washington insider and attorney David Richardson.

"Trump has scorned 'liberal lawyers' for years, and yet he is more connected to the courts than anyone...more of his doublespeak," Richardson said.

Across America's legal establishment, scholars agreed that Trump's litigious angle was a new feature of American politics.

" I don't know it is a sign of the times generally as much as it is the product of an incredibly idiosyncratic president," said law professor at University of Denver Alan Chen.

"The suits since he has taken office are in part a reflection on the aggressive, and to some degree unusually rapid, manner in which he has effectuated major changes in U.S. foreign and domestic policy," Chen told Xinhua.

Chen is an award-winning teacher and an expert on free speech doctrine, federal and public interest law.

In the first month after his Jan. 20 inauguration, Trump was named in more than 60 federal cases in 17 different states, according to NBC News. By contrast, President Obama was named in three lawsuits in the first 30 days in office.

"Because he is mandating by Executive Order, Trump's opponents have only one avenue toward stopping the president's actions, and that's through the courts," explained David S. Brown, Chairman of the University of Colorado's Political Science Department.

"The federal judiciary is a branch of government that is not under President Trump's control," Chen agreed.

Brown, who earned a PhD in 1995 at the University of California, Los Angeles, is a well-published author on the American political system. He told Xinhua that a lot of lawsuits had been brought as a reaction to Trump's travel ban.

The American Civil Liberties Union, American Arab Civil Rights League, and Council on American Islamic Relations Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics stood in court claiming the president's travel ban was unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds.

The ban creates "favored and disfavored groups based on their faith," the Islamic Relations group wrote in its complaint.

Washington State is also suing Trump, claiming the travel ban violates the First Amendment and Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.

"And certainly Trump has always been very litigious himself," Brown said.

An analysis by USA Today found that over the past 30 years, Trump and his businesses were involved in 3,500 legal cases in U.S. federal and state courts.

It's certainly not unusual for a prominent businessperson to be engaged in high volumes of litigation, Chen pointed out.

"But, contrary to popular belief, the president knows the inside of a courtroom better than most lawyers," Richardson said.

"He has no problem with paying expensive lawyers or using the same system that he publicly decries," the Seattle attorney told Xinhua.

Of the staggering 3,500 suits, Trump, or one of his companies, were plaintiffs in 1,900 and defendants in 1,450. The suits included contract disputes, bankruptcies, defamation claims, and allegations of sexual harassment.

In some 500 cases, judges dismissed claims against Trump, but in hundreds more, it was unclear about the resolution. Overall, Trump won 451 cases and lost 38, according to the USA Today research.

U.S. legal experts saw these huge numbers continuing during the Trump presidency.

"Yes, I think there will be an unprecedented number of law suits against President Trump," Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the University of California Irvine School of Law, told Xinhua.

Chemerinsky, a frequent national commentator on the American legal system, gave a lecture last Tuesday at the University of Denver entitled "The First Amendment in the Era of President Trump."

"His actions and policies are likely to be repeatedly challenged in the courts," Chemerinsky said, adding that the First Amendment would be tested during the Trump Administration.

Legal pundits federal courts will see a backlog as a record number of challenges will be filed against Trump policies. It may take years before some cases are heard.

Chermerinsky and others thought the U.S. Supreme Court may experience its greatest workload in history.

Currently America's highest court features four liberal justices, each two were appointed during the Clinton and Obama presidencies. It also has four conservative justices, but with one seat, the "decisive 5th vote," is still vacant.

Last February, after conservative justice Antonin Scalia died, Congressional Republicans delayed the nomination of a new justice nominated by Democrat Obama.

Obama wanted moderate Judge Merrick Garland to fill the ninth seat, but the Republican political stall tactic worked and Garland was never confirmed.

Earlier this month, President Trump announced he would fill the vacant seat with conservative Judge Neil Gorsuch from Colorado.

Gorsuch's confirmation hearings was scheduled to begin March 20.

Legal scholars believed Gorsuch would win quick confirmation, and then the conservative-leaning Supreme Court would rubber-stamp cases favoring Trump's policies in the future.



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