by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says that Democrats are abusing the strategy that some Republican officeholders used to restrain the Obama administration.
Texas filed 48 lawsuits against the Obama administration from 2009 to 2016 on issues ranging from immigration to the environment and healthcare. Paxton filed 17 suits against the federal government since taking office in 2015—an increase from the 31 filed by his predecessor, Gov. Greg Abbott.
Paxton has filed five additional suits against the federal government since President Trump took office in January and has a major suit pending against the Department of Energy led by Rick Perry.
Paxton disputes that the suits filed by Democratic attorneys general are on par with those filed by Texas during the Obama years. The goal of the lawsuits in the Obama era, he says, was to overturn policies that overstepped executive authority.
“Obama himself said 22 times that he didn’t have the authority to make immigration reform happen with the stroke of his pen, but that didn’t stop him from doing it,” Paxton says. The Democrats have succeeded at blocking Trump from acting within the discretion of the president to control the border because liberal judges are overstepping their authority, he argues. He considers many of the suits filed against the Trump administration to be a misuse of judicial authority.
“We challenged an administration based on the fact that it was not following laws that we had on the book. Democrats are turning to the judiciary to change laws they don’t like and find new constitutional rights for non-citizens,” Paxton says. “We weren’t asking the court to change statutes. We were asking the court to enforce them.”