By Dan Calabrese
This has become the go-to tactic of the left in the Trump era: When the president exercises any sort of executive authority whatsoever, all you have to do is find a liberal federal judge who is willing to rule Trump’s action illegal.
Often these judges have no authority to even get involved with these cases (looking at you, Judge Derrick Watson), but ties up the administration and forces them to file appeals – often taking them all the way to the Supreme Court where the White House inevitably wins – thus exceedingly complicating the process of governing.
And that’s a win as far as the left is concerned. So they keep doing this.
And they got another pound of flesh out of Trump this past week as an Obama-appointed federal judge threw out a recent executive order designed to make it easier to fire bad federal employees. You would think most of the public would favor such a move, and it surely would. But public employee unions run America, so this would not do:
In an opinion Saturday, U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson said Trump exceeded his authority because Congress has established collective bargaining rights for federal employees through the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Act.
The three executive orders, signed in May, were an attempt to make good on a promise in Trump’s State of the Union address to make it easier for the government to reward good workers and fire bad ones.
But four labor unions representing federal workers sued, arguing that Trump was attempting to unilaterally dictate new terms to labor contracts they had already negotiated.
Specifically, Trump’s orders attempted to cap the amount of time union officials employed by the federal government can spend on union business, speed up disciplinary procedures and unilaterally adopt performance-based pay plans.
Jackson said presidents do have the power to sign executive orders on federal employee-management relations – but only as long as they don’t conflict with the law. On balance, the judge wrote in her 122-page decision, “this Court has decided that the unions have the better of this argument.”
No one is arguing the employees don’t have collective bargaining rights. That’s clearly in the law. The question is how executive discretion the president has in setting management policies within the collective bargaining structure. Judge Jackson simply assumes that every management policy has to be subject to collective bargaining, which basically means the president can’t establish any supervisory policies at all unless the union gives its blessing.
That’s an absurd way to run any organization, but then again this is the federal government we’re talking about.
Many people who voted for Donald Trump did so believing that as a no-nonsense businessman, he would do away with absurd policies and procedures that politicians put up with as a path of least resistance. Trump is trying to do that. But when federal judges insert themselves into every executive decision – regardless of whether they really have the power to do so – it can become nearly impossible for even the most determined strong executive to do what he was sent there to do.
The swamp is far from drained. Trump will probably win this one at the Supreme Court level as well, but these cases take a long time and a lot of legal resources to get to that point. And if you have to do that every time you try to make a decision, how can you really govern at all?
And that, as the left knows full well, is the whole idea.
Dan writes Christian spiritual warfare novels and does all kinds of other weird things too. Follow all his activity by liking him on Facebook!