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Outcome Of Texas Lawsuits ‘Unpredictable’ Under Trump Administration

Texas has sued the Obama Administration over and over again. But what will happen to that pending litigation under a Trump presidency? Experts say a lot of cases will be dismissed, but that doesn’t mean the bad blood between Texas and the federal government will all go away.



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As the most populous red state in the country, Texas has led the charge against what it sees as over-reach by the federal government and President Barack Obama.

Charles Rocky Rhodes, an expert in constitutional law, said almost all these cases involving Texas have been situations where Texas is claiming the agency has gone beyond its powers that Congress has given it.

"And under a Trump Administration, the reality of the situation is most of the regulations Texas is challenging, he is likely to rescind,” said Rhodes, a law professor at South Texas College of Law Houston.

According to Rhodes, for most of these executive orders, it’s a fairly simple matter to undo them. For instance, if President Obama sent a letter to an agency outlining a new policy, Trump merely has to send a follow-up letter to change the policy.

But having a Republican president and Congress doesn’t mean the feds will always play nice with red states. When it comes to big, hot-button issues including the Affordable Care Act, transgender restroom policies, and even immigration, Political Scientist Jon Taylor said Texas officials could end up disappointed if Trump softens his stance.

“You could make that argument, that’s what happened in the 1980s between Republican states and the Reagan Administration, or even the Bush 43 Administration, said Taylor, who chairs the political science department at the University of St. Thomas. "Just because you’ve got a Republican in the White House does not mean there are not issues between the states and the federal government, there always will be.”

Taylor said many more of those issues will pop up in states like California and Massachusetts, rather than Texas.

And there are some legal cases that are likely to stick around, even under Republican leadership. One example is the lawsuit over the state’s Voter ID law. In that case, some Texas voters who did not have photo IDs sued the state and the Justice Department joined the plaintiffs.

“It would not surprise me if the Trump Administration decides to switch sides and support Texas. But that case will still proceed because you have another third party who is an appropriate plaintiff in federal court, so a case like that will continue,” said Rhodes.

Both experts point out some of President-elect Trump’s positions don’t line up with traditional Republican platforms. And that makes it hard to predict what kind of policies the Trump Administration is going to pursue, and whether Texas will be happy with the outcome.

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Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

Executive Director of Content Operations

As Executive Director of Content Operations, Laurie Johnson-Ramirez leads the strategic vision and initiatives for News, Digital, Radio Operations and Talk Shows on all of Houston Public Media’s platforms. She brings 20 years of experience in journalism and content development to the role. Her focus is on reaching new audiences,...

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