Deep-cleaning the Oval Office (and removing the Diet Coke button) was the easy part. What’s to be done about the last four years of wretched Republican policy? Trump may be gone but he leaves a trail of destruction through the federal government that will take years to undo. There were big things, like the racist ban on travel from Muslim-majority countries; there were small things, like new regulations that would have allowed manufacturers to sell pollution-causing dishwashers (yes that’s a real thing); and then there were the massive headaches like the scheme to sabotage the Post Office.
Some of those nightmares can be waved away with an executive order, and indeed Biden has begun the process of cleaning up, like a weary parent coming home to discover that their teen has thrown a party that left the house in quite a state. But some puke stains are not so easily scrubbed off the walls, and it’ll take a lot of very tedious work to undo the damage.
Don’t worry, though. Washington’s got a plan for cleaning up Trump’s mess—ninety-seven separate plans, in fact.
Since Trump took office, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has overseen the filing of nearly 100 lawsuits against the administration, either led by Washington or with Washington joining coalitions of like-minded states. Of those, most are still in progress, which means as Washingtonians we’ll be taking a lead role in cleaning up Trump's mess for years, in courts across the country.
So far, the litigation has been going very well indeed: We’ve won 22 cases, with 17 more victories that are still working their way through the appeals process. (And the federal government is far less likely to put up a fight in those cases, now that there’s been a regime change.)
Among our victories, the travel ban is the big one; in part because it spawned multiple lawsuits. We won the first one, and put the second and third on hold when the ban was halted. Biden wiped out the ban on his first day in office, so that should settle that matter.
Then we have the immigration-related lawsuits. To use a legal term, Washington freaked the fuck out about the Trump administration’s immigration policies, and we’ve already won some of our lawsuits on that issue: The federal government was required to turn over thousands of pages of documents relating to ICE. But many cases are still pending, including the Trump administration’s policy of kidnapping children at the border; arresting immigrants at courthouses; and the policy that allows immigrants to be deported if they need food assistance.
We’re also embroiled in a ton of lawsuits over environmental protections, including one about energy standards for ceiling fans—we won that case, forcing Trump’s EPA to implement rules that will save billions in energy costs. Yes, that’s right, billions saved because of more efficient ceiling fans.
But we’re still working our way through a case regarding the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which attacks the nervous system and poses a dire risk to farm workers. We’re also suing the federal government over plans to lease coal-mining rights on public land; plans to reduce penalties for car manufacturers who violate fuel-efficiency standards; the EPA’s failure to require reporting of asbestos exposure; revisions to Washington’s clean water standards; and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
And then there’s a handful of cases that fall into a sort of “miscellaneous” bucket: Various motions involving the Trump plan to get rid of the national archive in Seattle (covered in detail here); rules about minimum staffing on trains to prevent more catastrophic crashes; and a lawsuit over a Department of Education plan that would have let scam-colleges issue expensive worthless degrees.
I don’t often write these words, but: This is a very exciting time to be a lawyer. Republicans essentially left Biden with the smoldering wreckage of capitalist death-cult devastation, and now it’s time for a giant team of attorneys who represent the people of Washington state to roll up their sleeves and start re-assembling the rubble into the barely-functioning country we had before.
So far, the cleanup crew has managed to roll back the devastation in about a quarter of the cases—only one case has been completed with a loss for Washington state, and that was regarding a Census-related policy that was reversed on Biden’s first day.
That’s twenty-three messes down, seventy-four left to go.