Federal judges have ruled against the Trump administration an embarrassing 60-plus times on topics ranging from immigration to the environment.
Last week, however, the White House caught a win. A panel of three appeals judges tossed out a lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump's accepting money from state and foreign governments through his Washington, D.C., hotel and other enterprises.
“Word just out that I won a big part of the Deep State and Democrat induced Witch Hunt,” Trump crowed on Twitter.
The facts were less fabulous than that. The judges merely found the attorneys general of Washington, D.C., and Maryland lacked standing to bring the suit. Another such case, filed by Congressional Democrats, is still pending.
Still, other federal-court actions had the president and his team back in an accustomed state of grievance.
For one, Trump was found to have violated free speech by blocking some Twitter users on his @realdonaldtrump account.
Judge Barrington Parker wrote, on behalf of a unanimous three-judge panel: “The First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilizes a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from an otherwise-open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees.”
Rather than say Trump would abide by the ruling, Kelly Laco, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice, said: “We are disappointed with the court’s decision and are exploring possible next steps.”
Another blow came in the higher-profile lawsuit surrounding a proposed U.S. Census question on citizenship. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman rejected the Justice Department's request to replace its legal team in the case, saying the government provided "no reasons, let alone satisfactory reasons."
That was a follow-up to Chief Judge John G. Roberts' recent majority opinion that the reasons the administration offered for adding the question were a "pretext," also known as a lie. And while acknowledging federal agencies' choices, he wrote, “We are not required to exhibit a naiveté from which ordinary citizens are free.”
Rather than explain his lawyers' failed deception, Trump soon pouted on Twitter.
"So now the Obama appointed judge on the Census case ... won’t let the Justice Department use the lawyers that it wants to use. Could this be a first?"
Actually, Furman attributed his ruling to a time frame on which the administration insisted. By Thursday, White House officials raised a white flag in the case while denying they were doing so.
This is a dramatic example of the type of mess the Trump team has generated all along for itself in the federal courts, prompting the president to ineffectively charge judicial bias and party conspiracies as his go-to excuse.
Four months ago, well before the courts decided the Census case, Georgetown Law School's William W. Buzbee, an expert on administrative law, told The Washington Post, of the current White House team: "What they have consistently been doing is short-circuiting the process."
In many regulatory cases, Buzbee said, “They don’t even come close” to explaining their actions, “making it very easy for the courts to reject them because they’re not doing their homework.”