Reviewing President Trump’s Inaugural Year from a Legal Perspective

Millions of Trump voters cast their vote for the president out of hopes that he would appoint conservative judges to the Supreme Court. In that sense, conservative voters got what they bargained for in that President Trump nominated – and the Senate later confirmed – Neil M. Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

Trump’s Supreme Court Appointment

Surprisingly, this game-changer of a shakeup on the Supreme Court may have been overshadowed by Trump’s travel ban and the ongoing dispute of whether Trump’s divestments from his business violate the Constitution’s emoluments clause or not. In other words, lawyers and legal experts had their hands full throughout 2017 trying to parse exactly how the Trump administration’s actions fit into an historical and legal context.

The most remarkable aspect of Trump’s Supreme Court appointment may not have had anything to do with Trump per se. Before the 2017 appointment of Neil Gorsuch, there were two dozen individual instances in which a Supreme Court vacancy sprang up in the president’s final term of office. In 21 of those 24 instances (over 85%), the U.S. Senate rushed to confirm the nominee.

Obama experienced something rather unprecedented in the sense that his nomination of Merrick Garland, an erstwhile darling of the Republicans, was blocked around every turning. There were no hearings for Merrick Garland, let along a Senate vote for the nominee. Democrats, though, may have the last laugh in 2018 if they win back one or both houses in the mid-term elections.

Cooper Vs. Harris Case

The Supreme Court voted 5-3 to preclude the use of race in drawing election districts.

Trump’s Ongoing Interaction with the Supreme Court

President Trump has been one of the more vociferous critics of Supreme Court decisions in recent history. The Gloucester County School Board Vs. G.G. case that questioned whether civil rights laws ushered in under President Johnson applied to discrimination against transgender students seemed to inspire a wealth of opinions from President Trump.

Another Supreme Court case was heard vis-a-vis the National Labor Relations Act and its safeguarding of employee arbitration agreements. Trump took a position contrary to Obama’s and essentially sided with management over labor. The resulting division had the National Labor Relations Board on the side of labor and the solicitor general on the side of management. Similar splits are expected in 2018.

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