SE Texas Record

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Abbott leaves legacy of suits against federal government

By Marilyn Tennissen | Jan 5, 2015

As Greg Abbott prepares to be sworn in as the governor of Texas, the attorney general leaves behind a legacy of lawsuits against the federal government. Since the inauguration of President Barack Obama in January 2009, Abbott has sued his administration almost 30 times.

The Southeast Texas Record reported on several of the legal actions Abbott was involved with in 2014.

In January, Abbott joined attorneys general of 10 other states in a comment letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services about a proposed change to the Affordable Care Act.

The coalition commented on the Obama Administration’s announcement that insurance companies would be allowed to continue offering plans that do not comply with the Affordable Care Act’s mandates. Their letter opposes the new rule, alleging it is flatly illegal under federal constitutional and statutory law.

The letter was addressed to Kathleen Sebelius, the HHS secretary, and alleged President Obama is violating his responsibility to execute laws faithfully and the separation of powers between the branches of government.

When the Supreme Court found that the Environmental Protection Agency's greenhouse gas permitting plan ignored federal law, Abbott supported the court’s decision. The court said the EPA exceeded its authority by altering the emissions standard for greenhouse gases in the Clean Air Act to regulate more stationary sources.

“The President has said over and over again that where Congress does not act, he will act unilaterally. The EPA’s greenhouse gas permitting scheme is a perfect example of that dangerous philosophy in action,” Abbott said in a released statement on June 23. “Today the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a stern rebuke to the President.”

In August, Abbott submitted formal comments to the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers over their proposal of a new definition for navigable waters.

He argued the proposed regulations were an attempt by the EPA to regulate private property that was clearly outside the agency’s jurisdiction.

By expanding the definition of “navigable waters” as the agency proposed, any pond, stock tank or ditch could be regulated by the EPA.

“Under this untenable and legally baseless definition, any landowner who has a ditch on his or her private property is at risk of having the federal government exert regulation over that ditch and impose burdensome and expensive federal regulations over dry land that does not remotely resemble any common-sense understanding of ‘waters of the United States,’” he wrote.

As 2014 came to a close, Texas led a coalition of states in a suit over President Obama’s executive action on immigration. Abbott claims the action to keep millions of illegal immigrants from being deported “tramples” the Take Care Clause of the Constitution.

Obama’s directive to the Department of Homeland Security was issued without following the Administrative Procedure Act.

“The President is abdicating his responsibility to faithfully enforce laws that were duly enacted by Congress and attempting to rewrite immigration laws, which he has no authority to do – something the President himself has previously admitted. President Obama’s actions violate the Take Care Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the Administrative Procedure Act, which were intended to protect against this sort of executive disregard of the separation of powers,” Abbott said.

The Texas attorney general has filed a total of 29 suits against the Obama Administration. According to the Austin American Statesman, four of those have been against the EPA and are among 10 cases considered “victories” for Abbott.

Two cases have been “lost,” four have been dismissed and the rest are pending.


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