Yoo, author of the notorious “Torture Memos” under the Bush II DOJ, and his colleague Professor Sai Prakash (who, as far as I know, had nothing whatsoever to do with said Torture Memo) write in today’s Washington Post:
“But if presidential attacks on the courts are nothing new, the history also underscores the smallness of Mr. Trump’s vision. Jefferson, Lincoln and FDR knew when to speak and when to keep silent. They invoked the great powers of the presidency to oppose the Supreme Court only when fundamental constitutional questions were at stake: the punishment of political dissent; secession and slavery; Congress’s power to regulate the economy. The occasion for Mr. Trump’s fury is a temporary restraining order of a temporary suspension of immigration from seven countries. Mr. Trump still has the opportunity to prevail on the merits. He hasn’t lost the case—at least not yet.
The Trump administration will often appear in court over the next four or eight years. It will lose plenty of cases, because, like its predecessors, it will push the legal envelope. If the president publicly vents every time he loses a ruling, his complaints will recede into background noise.
Questioning judicial decisions, and even the judiciary’s legitimacy, is entirely proper. But a wise president will reserve such attacks for extraordinary matters of state involving the highest constitutional principles. To do otherwise risks dissipating the executive’s energy, weakening the president’s agenda, and wasting his political capital. When criticizing the Supreme Court for upholding the Bank of the United States, declaring Dred Scott a slave, or striking down the New Deal, presidents were advancing constitutional agendas worthy of a fierce attack on the courts. Mr. Trump is upset about losing a minor procedural test of a temporary executive order. If he doesn’t learn to be more judicious, we’re in for a long four years.”
Kinda says it all. Yoo and Prakash are right. All Administrations lose cases on a daily basis in Federal Courts throughout the county — literally thousands of them over a full Administration.
I know, because one of my duties as the Deputy General Counsel of the “Legacy INS” was to to write or supervise the writing of “Adverse Decision Reports” (known in the DOJ litigation business as “Tombstones”) to the Solicitor General’s Office. It could have been almost a full time job (without some “help from my friends” in the office and the field).
And, of course, the INS was only one of many Government agencies litigating in the Federal Courts every day. We at the “Legacy INS” even had our own “dedicated litigation division,” known as the “Office of Immigration Litigation (“OIL”)” within the Civil Division. Also, no (or almost no) term of the Supreme Court goes by without the USG being on the “losing” side of one or more major decisions.
So, the Prez better get used to it. He could start by paying more attention to the career “Federal Court Pros” in the Solicitor General’s Office and OIL and less attention to the views of guys like Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon, and even VP Mike Pence who are totally clueless as to how to conduct winning Federal litigation. Indeed, as Governor of Indiana, Pence got “totally creamed” in his disingenuous, mean-spirited, and illegal attempt to bar the resettlement of well-screened Syrian refugee families in Indiana. But, some folks never learn (and. perhaps, never will).