Accuracy in Media

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned on Sunday in large part because she refused to carry out orders from President Trump that she thought were against the law or defied court orders, according to the mainstream media.

“The president called Ms. Nielsen at home early in the mornings to demand that she take action to stop migrants from entering the country, including doing things that were clearly illegal, such as blocking all migrants from seeking asylum,” the New York Times reported, based solely on anonymous sources, in “Kirstjen Nielson Resigns as Trump’s Homeland Security Secretary” by Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Maggie Haberman, Michael D. Shear and Eric Schmitt. “She repeatedly noted the limitations imposed on her department by federal laws, court settlements and international obligations.”

The president’s frustration with Nielsen’s inability to get tough at the border and reduce the number of illegal immigrants attempting to enter “is a central theme in all the news accounts of why Trump turned on her,” wrote James Hohmann of the Washington Post in “The Daily 202: Trump keeps pushing legal boundaries – and 10 other takeaways from Kristjen Nielsen’s ouster.”

“It’s a part of a pattern,” Hohmann added. “Trump has repeatedly shown disdain for the rule of law.”

What was not pointed out is the previous administration set the record for disdain for the rule of law. The Obama administration lost a higher percentage of cases than any president since at least FDR, according to research by the American Bar Association.

Overall, presidents prevail about two-thirds of the time in Supreme Court cases, but the Obama administration won just 45 percent of its cases. Overall, Obama’s administration had a 79-96 overall record before the Court, which included a 3-9 mark in its first term and a 13-14 in its final year in which 10 of the cases attracting not a single vote, according to the study.

By comparison, President Reagan went 260-89 before the Court, about a 75 percent mark. President George H.W. Bush went 91-39 (about 70 percent), George W. Bush went 89-59 (60 percent), with some of the losses attributable more to the Clinton administration, which went 148-87 (63 percent) in its eight years, and even Jimmy Carter went 139-65 (68 percent).  

Those unanimous losses piled up at record rates as well, which meant even Obama’s nominees to the court – Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan – were voting against him. In all, Obama lost 44 cases on unanimous decisions, compared to 30 by George W. Bush and 31 by Bill Clinton.

“More than a few observers have suggested that, despite major victories in high-profile cases involving same-sex marriage, abortion, affirmative action and the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration overreached in other areas of the law and was smacked down by the High Court,” wrote Mark Walsh for ABA Journal.

“’Obama pushed the envelope on agency and executive actions that then got challenged in court,’” Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute who has studied the records of presidents before the Court, was quoted as saying.

 Shapiro said in his study the lawyers who argue for the government can’t be blamed. They are “very well respected, and their staffs are populated by people who graduated at the top of elite law schools and clerked on the Supreme Court. If they’re not qualified to represent the government, nobody is.

“No, this is a situation where, as noted Supreme Court advocate Miguel Estrada put it a few years ago when asked to opine on the administration’s poor record: “When you have a crazy client who makes you take crazy positions, you’re gonna lose some cases.’”

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