USA Today recently published a striking report on the frequency with which Donald Trump ends up in court, and the figures were pretty amazing: “[T]he presumptive Republican presidential nominee and his businesses have been involved in at least 3,500 legal actions in federal and state courts during the past three decades.” The plaintiff-to-defendant ratio was roughly even, suggesting Trump’s enterprise sues as much as it’s sued.
The report added that no presidential major-party presidential candidate “has had anything approaching the number of Trump’s courtroom entanglements.”
The GOP candidate was publicly delighted with the report, saying that his lawyers usually prevail. “Verdict: 450 wins, 38 losses,” Trump tweeted. “Isn’t that what you want for your president?”
I can’t speak to whether or not Americans would welcome a litigious president, but it appears Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is, in fact, quite impressed with Trump’s lawyers’ track record. Roll Call reported overnight:
Grassley … suggested Trump’s propensity for filing lawsuits showed some level of respect for the judicial branch.“He must respect the judiciary,” Grassley said. “I’ve seen statistics that he’s won over 400 cases, only lost 30.”
Imagine an elementary school. Little Donnie keeps getting into fights with other kids and ending up in the principal’s office. This keeps happening, over and over again, sometimes in fights in which Donnie was the aggressor, sometimes not.
“Little Donnie must really respect the school system,” Donnie’s friend Chuck says. “Look at how often he goes to the principal’s office!”
That makes about as much sense as Grassley’s argument. There was nothing in the article that suggested the senator was kidding, but just in case, let’s make this plain: repeatedly ending up in court is not a reflection of respect for the judiciary, and neither is hiring good lawyers who win more than they lose.
This is not, however, simply about laughing at an absurd argument from a senator who really ought to know better. What matters more is the fact that Chuck Grassley is blocking qualified judicial nominees – including a universally respected Supreme Court nominee – because he wants to empower Donald Trump to reshape the federal courts with far-right jurists.
This recent Des Moines Register op-ed, published a few weeks ago, continues to ring true.
Over the course of six terms in the U.S. Senate, three terms in the U.S. House, and 16 years in the Iowa Legislature, Grassley cultivated a reputation for being a fair-minded, hard-working, bipartisan lawmaker. That well-deserved reputation is now badly damaged – perhaps irretrievably so.Grassley is wrong when he says his name “will probably never be mentioned in the history books.” But given the context in which his name is now most likely to be mentioned, he may soon wish he was right.