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Lawsuits & Litigation

California A.G. Xavier Becerra Files 100th Lawsuit Against Trump Administration

— August 30, 2020

Californians have spent over $40 million on Becerra’s lawsuits–but they’ve brought real results.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has launched his 100th lawsuit against the Trump administration.

Becerra, writes the Los Angeles Times, says he never expected to spend so much time fighting the White House.

“I am surprised that any president in any administration would at least 100 times be caught red-handed violating the law,” Becerra told the Times. “I am not surprised we have had to sue, because we have to protect our people, our resources and our vales, and we use the rule of law to do that.”

The Times notes that Becerra’s lawsuits against the administration have tackled a number of different issues. They have challenged the White House’s immigration policies, appropriations powers, education guidance, firearms dictates, and more.

Becerra’s latest lawsuit alleges that President Trump and top-ranking Washington bureaucrats have intentionally undermined—or flat-out circumvented—existing environmental law. Specifically, the complaint states that a revision to the National Environmental Policy Act will severely curtail the public’s opportunity to provide feedback on federal projects and protocol.

According to Becerra, the new rule—which went into effect in July—could undermine under-privileged communities’ ability to advocate for their own interests. The policy would provide private developers and government officials a “shortcut” to bypass public scrutiny to commercial and federal projects.

President Trump. Image via Flickr/user: Gage Skidmore. (CCA-BY-2.0)

“This rule would short-circuit the process for review,” Becerra told the Times. “It would let developers and development projects go through a shortcut that deprives communities that live in these areas the right to provide their input.”

Some of the president’s allies, however, have accused Becerra of being too trigger-happy in pursuing the Trump administration.

Mike Madrid, a conservative political strategist, said California’s attorney general has obvious, politically-driven motivations.

“Establishing yourself as the most anti-Trump politician in California obviously has its benefits in the state, and he’s best positioned to be that person, with the arguable exception of the governor,” Madrid said. “It’s like the Trump administration is giving the attorney general an in-kind contribution to his next campaign.”

Jack Pitney, a professor of political science at Claremont McKenna College, similarly told the Times that Becerra has little to lose—and much to gain—in challenging Trump’s edicts, whether they’re particularly controversial or relatively unknown.

“There is very little downside to fighting Trump in a state where he got only 32% of the vote,” Pitney said. “Becerra’s causes, especially environmental protection, are popular with Californians.”

They’re also relatively expensive. In the past four years, Becerra’s office has spent an estimated $43 million filing lawsuits and fighting cases against the Trump administration.

But Becerra—and other Democratic attorneys general across the country—are not necessarily exhausting taxpayer money for little gain. As the Sacramento Bee notes, many of President Trump’s campaign promises and policy priorities have failed to come into fruition due to nationwide injunctions resulting from legal disputes.

“Every single case is based on Donald Trump and his administration doing something against the law,” Becerra said. “We didn’t wake up one morning and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to sue Donald Trump again?’”

“We’re not just fighting,” Becerra said, “we’re winning.”


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