One threat to Biden’s agenda is legal action from states over his federal plans. Alexandra Villarreal in Austin reports for us today on how Texas is attempting to derail progressive policies:
Just two days after Joe Biden’s inaufuration, Texas filed the first major lawsuit against Biden’s administration, successfully blocking a 100-day deportation moratorium that the governor, Greg Abbott, chided as an “attempt to grant blanket amnesty” to immigrants.
Far from a one-off burst of hostility, that incendiary case marked a return to Texas politicians’ tried and true playbook of weaponizing the courts to derail progressive policies, a tactic that’s proven surprisingly potent amid ideological warfare with the feds.
“They’ve been successful at, like, causing uncertainty,” said Katie Keith, associate research professor for the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University. “And making a mess of things that I think other folks feel are otherwise settled.”
The state’s leadership leaned heavily on the judiciary under Barack Obama’s administration, which they sued at least 48 times, the Texas Tribune reported, tackling issues as disparate and all-encompassing as immigration, environmental regulations and voting rights.
Then, in the aftermath of last year’s presidential election, Paxton went so far as to challenge 20m votes in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in a far-fetched attempt to overturn Donald Trump’s defeat. And right now, Texas is spearheading yet another existential threat to the Affordable Care Act in the supreme court, even as Biden urges the justices to preserve Obama’s signature healthcare law.
Because of the high stakes, these cases often capture national attention, and Texas’s ambitious current and former attorneys general have shown a willingness to trade resources and time for newspaper quotes and TV interviews. The court battles give key players such as Paxton a platform “to demonstrate that they are fighters and they’re looking out for their voters”, said Keith E Whittington, a professor of politics at Princeton University.
“These kinds of lawsuits have become very high-profile events” and allow those involved to “grandstand and send a political message to constituents about all the hard work you’re doing to oppose the administration that they don’t like”, Whittington said.
Texas’s judicial activism is part of a larger partisan gambit that’s been going on for years. Politicians undo or delay federal policies they find unfavorable or overreaching, while strategically framing the narrative in the press.
“They are good opportunities to really try to influence the messaging about how particular policies or particular laws are understood, and what the potential problems with them are,” Whittington said.
Read more of Alexandra Villarreal’s report here: Texas ramps up efforts to derail progressive policies