Ferguson speaks at protest during Betsy Devos’ visit to Bellevue. Photo by Nicole Jennings

Ferguson speaks at protest during Betsy Devos’ visit to Bellevue. Photo by Nicole Jennings

Count ‘Em

AG Ferguson Has Sued the Trump Administration 17 Times

And we doubt he’ll stop there.

In the past week and a half alone, Attorney General Bob Ferguson has challenged the Trump Administration three separate times in court. On October 9, it was over women’s access to contraceptive care; on October 12, it was a motion in the ongoing fight against Trump’s hotly-contested travel ban; on October 13, it was over the administration’s decision to end an Affordable Care Act (ACA) funding provision.

By this point, of course, we can hardly be surprised. Before we even knew for sure that President Donald Trump would win the election, Ferguson was already promising to sue the guy. “If the truly unthinkable were to happen, I want to tell you who the most important officials in the country are: Your Democratic attorneys general,” he said on election night. “We can hold your elected officials accountable to the rule of law.”

Then, in January, he did: His office was the first in the nation to sue the Trump administration over the president’s first executive order to ban travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. On that effort, Ferguson prevailed. And when the administration rescinded its first attempt and came back with round two, Ferguson amended his complaint and carried on. And when two more judges struck that one down and the administration came back with round three, Ferguson filed an emergency motion to block it and again amended his original complaint.

On Tuesday, a federal judge in Hawaii ruled that Trump’s third attempt at a travel ban was also unconstitutional and discriminatory; the new order “suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor,” said U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson. Another federal judge in Maryland said more or less the same thing on Wednesday morning. Muslim Ban 3.0, as it’s been called, was supposed to have gone into effect on October 18. Ferguson called Tuesday’s ruling a “great outcome in Hawaii for the rule of law” and said his team’s next hearing on the case is set for October 30 before Judge James L. Robart, the same judge who blocked the first travel ban.

Still, as you might imagine if you’ve been following the news at all in the past nine months, all of the above suits are in very, very good company. Ferguson’s office has filed, to date, 17 lawsuits against the Trump administration—and those 17 don’t include four additional pieces of federal litigation where Ferguson’s office has stepped in to defend an agency rule (these are based on actions or inactions by the Trump administration, but the administration is not named as a defendant). So, as of the third week of October, we’re talking 21 and counting.

Ferguson has, for example, sued the Trump administration over its decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, saying it was both “arbitrary and capricious” and violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. He sued the U.S. Department of Education as well as Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos for delaying Obama-era rules that protect students from predatory for-profit colleges that’ve stacked them with debt and useless degrees. He sued the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management over the administration’s decision to restart a program that allows coal leasing on federal land, and sued over the administration’s efforts to delay federal energy efficiency standards designed both to curb environmental pollution and save consumers money.

Most recently, when the Trump administration issued new rules allowing employers to restrict female employees’ access to contraceptive coverage if they have religious or “moral” objections (according to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, quoting Trump, this was designed to “not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore”) Ferguson alleged that this violates the First and Fifth Amendments.

And when the administation stopped federal cost-sharing payments under the ACA, Ferguson joined yet another multistate lawsuit against it. The new rules could, Ferguson’s office said, increase over 100,000 Washington residents’ premiums by nearly a third, and they also violate the U.S. Constitution, the ACA, and the Administrative Procedure Act.

But wait, there’s more! Ferguson has also sought to join a suit against EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt for abruptly halting a safety review of the pesticide chlorpyrifos—a chemical that has been found to cause neurodevelopmental damage—and filed a petition in federal court to challenge the Trump administration’s delay of an update to the Chemical Disaster Rule, a regulation that sets safety standards for facilities that handle hazardous substances. And, in late September, Ferguson attempted to add Washington to a multistate lawsuit challenging Trump’s sudden ban on transgender people serving in the military.

Of the 17 total lawsuits to date, 13 remain ongoing and four have been settled. All of those four landed Ferguson’s favor. As he put it with a grin during his DACA lawsuit announcement, “I’m not keeping score or anything, but so far we’re 4 and 0.”

sbernard@seattleweekly.com

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