When it comes to President Donald Trump, Americans don’t agree on much. They can’t even agree on why they disagree.
But a recent USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll found Trump’s supporters and detractors have one thing in common: a tendency to stick to their comfort zones, which either means they will back him even if he shoots somebody on Fifth Avenue, or they will loathe him for his outrageous behavior and personal scandals, even if the economy remains strong.
Trump’s approval rating hovers around 40 percent, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is certainly no fan, with his resistance on full display in federal court. Becerra has brought 38 federal lawsuits against the Trump Administration in just 18 months, on more than a dozen issues ranging from immigration, the environment, the U.S. census, education, the Internet, transgender rights and healthcare.
As litigious as Becerra might seem, he is not the first attorney general to go this route. When Barack Obama was president, Greg Abbott, at the time the Republican attorney general of Texas, sued the Obama administration nearly 50 times. In 2013, Abbott described how he spent his 12 years as the Texas AG: “I go into the office in the morning, I sue Barack Obama, and then I go home.” Texans apparently supported this routine, electing him governor in 2014.
So far, Becerra is 12-3 against the Trump administration, winning key court rulings on cost-free birth control, air pollution and fuel-efficiency standards for automakers. Here is a breakdown of some of the legal challenges Becerra has brought:
Becerra led a lawsuit against the move to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the program that protects immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children from deportation. The courts issued a preliminary injunction, and the government continues to accept DACA renewal applications in accordance with the injunction.
In September 2017, Becerra sued over Trump’s proposal to build a wall at the U.S./Mexico border. Ironically, Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the same “very hostile” federal judge who presided over the fraud cases involving the now defunct Trump University, ruled in Trump’s favor in the border wall case.
Becerra also led an alliance of 16 attorneys general who won a court decision allowing them to oppose an application by Texas and other conservative states seeking to stop operation of the Affordable Care Act on a nationwide basis.
Becerra, along with transgender service members, succeeded in obtaining a preliminary injunction regarding Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military.
In August 2017, the state won its challenge of Trump’s immigration enforcement policy by alleging that it violates the Constitution through seeking to withhold federal funds from so-called “sanctuary jurisdictions” in several California cities, including San Francisco.
Becerra is currently challenging Trump’s plans to add a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. Census, claiming the action is unlawful and will impede efforts to obtain an accurate population count. An undercount could have huge negative repercussions for California, including losing a congressional seat and jeopardizing billions of dollars in federal funding for health care, transportation and education.
A lawsuit filed by Becerra in May 2017 challenges the U.S. Department of the Interior’s recent decision to resume federal coal leasing on public land, alleging that coal mined on public lands would be transported via train through California and exported from ports in Los Angeles, Long Beach and northern California, causing serious health problems.
Political opponents have charged that he is “completely obsessed with Donald Trump,” but Becerra says he is only standing up for California values. “We’ll go after anyone who tries to stop us from becoming that economic engine, including the federal government, which is constitutionally overreaching in its powers,” he said. “We [didn’t] become the fifth-largest economy in the world simply by sitting back.”