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Press Release | January 20, 2023

Two Years into Biden Administration, the Government Maintains Trump-Era Legal Positions in Dozens of Cases

2020 Election/TransitionAdministrative LawDepartment of Justice
<strong>Two Years into Biden Administration, the Government Maintains Trump-Era Legal Positions in Dozens of Cases</strong>

Midway through Biden’s term, the Biden administration continues to advance Trump-era legal positions in court, according to an update released today to the Revolving Door Project’s long-running litigation tracker

Fidelity to Trump-era positions takes many forms. Biden’s DOJ successfully defended Trump-era warrantless searches of travelers’ phones; in 2022, the public learned that customs officials maintain a huge database of travelers’ copied phone data. The DOJ continued to prosecute an indigenous woman arrested while praying on sacred grounds disrupted by Trump’s border wall construction. They successfully defended the 17-year allowance Trump’s EPA granted to Montana to fail to meet clean water standards for nutrient pollution. They persist in siding with the pork industry against California and animal rights groups in a high-profile Supreme Court case, despite dozens of Democratic lawmakers urging a change of course. 

National Pork Producers Council v. Ross is not the only animal farming case in which the Biden-Garland Justice Department continues to maintain Trump administration positions. The latest update to the litigation tracker shows the Justice Department continuing to defend multiple Trump-era Department of Agriculture decisions that excuse or enable the cruel treatment of poultry, lab-kept primates, and pigs in slaughterhouses.

Revolving Door Project Researcher Ananya Kalahasti said: “As the previous administration violated legal and ethical norms at every turn, Attorney General Merrick Garland’s choice of continuity with the Trump DOJ’s positions erodes the integrity of the very institution he is determined to protect. While the Justice Department makes concerted strides towards a more just application of the law in many cases, it pulls backwards in others, muddling the legacy and body of precedent it is shaping in real time.”

Revolving Door Project Researcher Hannah Story Brown said: “The Justice Department has chosen continuity with its Trump-era position in amicus filings before the Supreme Court in National Pork Producers Council v. Ross. Fortunately, the Biden administration still has a potent opportunity to chart a better course, with other ongoing cases like Suncor v. Boulder County Commissioners, a climate damages case in which the Supreme Court has solicited the Justice Department’s opinion. We are watching closely to see whether the Justice Department chooses to break from or maintain the position it first adopted under disgraced former DOJ environmental attorney Jeffrey Clark in related state-level climate cases.”

Access the updated litigation tracker here.


IMAGE: “President Joe Biden looks on as Attorney General Merrick Garland delivers remarks…” is an Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz in the public domain.

2020 Election/TransitionAdministrative LawDepartment of Justice

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