Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Essential California

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Aug. 14, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

In an era of whiplash politics, California vs. Trump has become one of the most consistent political narratives of the past 2-1/2 years, as the state has filed lawsuit after lawsuit against the administration. Within the first year of Trump’s presidency, California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra had made a name for himself in the so-called Democratic resistance with his prolific legal challenges on federal actions. The lawsuits have targeted federal policy on immigration, healthcare, education and the environment, to name just a short few of the items on the laundry list.

“This isn’t a cold war. It’s a scorching hot war. And that’s politically expedient for both sides,” as law professor Jessica Levinson said in April 2018.

By mid-2018, the state had filed 38 lawsuits against the federal government.

By 2019, California had sued the administration more times than Texas took President Obama to court during his eight years in office. In May, California filed its 50th lawsuit against the Trump administration (this one disputed a union dues policy).

And the multi-front legal battle goes both ways. As recently as last week, Trump and his 2020 reelection campaign filed a legal challengeagainst California’s first-in-the-nation law requiring presidential primary candidates to release their tax returns or be kept off the ballot.

[See also: “In California vs. Trump, the state is winning nearly all its environmental cases” in the Los Angeles Times]

On Tuesday, Becerra and Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the latest in the onslaught of litigation: California and a coalition of 21 other states are suing to block the Trump administration’s attempt to gut restrictions on coal-burning power plants, limits that were central to Obama’s climate change policy.

That same day, the first lawsuits were filed against the administration’s new “public charge” rule, which could deny green cards to immigrants on public assistance. But the litigant in that case wasn’t the state of California — it was two Bay Area counties, San Francisco and Santa Clara.

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