On Thursday, AG Eric Schneiderman announced that he’s leading a coalition of AGs challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality, a move that effectively handed control of the internet to AT&T, Verizon, and their ilk. It’s not clear how many AGs are joining him, but it’s likely to be a robust group; 19 states objected in advance of the repeal of net neutrality.
When it comes to suing President Donald Trump and his administration, state attorneys general are leading the way. So far, 22 AGs have challenged administration policies.
Nineteen state AGs sued to stop the administration from withholding Obamacare subsidies from states, 16 to halt the rollback of environmental regulations, and 20 to reverse its decision to rescind a program that had protected young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children from deportation.
Since January, California alone, led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, has lodged 22 lawsuits against the administration on 17 different topics.
Federal legislators are also raising legal hell. As of June, 200-plus members of Congress—all Democrats—are suing Trump over his violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause. That is to say, they’re arguing that Trump has violated a constitutional ban on accepting perks from foreign powers by collecting income from businesses that do so and taking advantage of suddenly speedy trademark approvals overseas.
Of course, Trump is not just facing political actors in court. From individual Twitter users (including this one) to universities and non-profits to local businesses and major corporations, Americans are uniting to challenge his destructive policies. The members’ emoluments suit against Trump followed one brought by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington on behalf of businesses in competition with Trump.
Then there’s the amicus phenomenon. In U.S. courts, parties can make a pitch to be part of a case even if they’re not directly involved so long as they’re relevant. Since Trump’s inauguration, corporations are chiming in with regularity on everything from economic policy to civil rights. In October, 76 companies signed on to a single brief urging the Supreme Court to support workplace protections for LGBT people. Now, Amazon, Facebook, and Google have indicated they may participate in challenges to the FCC’s attack on net neutrality.
Lawsuits are critical. Unlike other types of challenges, suits can have near-immediate effects—through, for example, a preliminary injunction to prevent a dubious policy from being implemented before courts can assess its legality, as with the transgender military service ban. The outcome of legal challenges is also less likely to be tainted by politics—at least until Trump fills the judiciary.