Presidential U-Turns and Reversals

August 28th, 2017

In today’s New York Times, Adam Liptak focuses on a feature of my new article, Presidential Maladministration. In this piece–which I authored before the election–I discuss the concept of a presidential reversal, where a new administration reverses the position of a prior administration. The Trump Administration has been reversing positions taken by the Obama Administration on regular basis.

Adam captures the gist of my piece here:

In a new law review article, Josh Blackman, a professor at South Texas College of Law, considered earlier changes in the government’s legal positions, finding them “increasingly problematic.”

On the one hand, he wrote, elections have consequences.

“There is nothing nefarious when a new administration disagrees with a previous administration,” he wrote. “Indeed, it is quite natural that presidents see things differently. The only question that remains is how should courts treat this reversal.”

If two administrations manage to read the same federal statutes in opposite ways, he wrote, something may be amiss.

“Where an incoming administration reverses a previous administration’s interpretation of statute simply because a new sheriff is in town,” he wrote, “courts should verify if the statute bears such a fluid construction.”