Judge Puts Brakes on Trump's Federal Union EO

An Obama appointee seeks to stymie Trump's efforts to reform public unions.

Political Editors · Aug. 28, 2018

In another win for Big Labor at the federal level, U.S. District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson struck down provisions from three of President Donald Trump’s executive orders that he signed this past May. Recall that Trump’s EOs were aimed at cleaning up and reforming federal unions, specifically to streamline hiring and firing procedures for federal employees. To put it simply, the rules and processes regarding firing federal workers for poor job performance had become an exceedingly arduous process, making it difficult for the government to get rid of bad employees. And when that’s difficult, you end up with more bad employees.

In her ruling, Jackson agreed that the executive branch had the authority to issue rule changes, but she insisted that in this case Trump overstepped his authority, declaring his orders were in breach of the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act. Jackson stated, “As to the merits of the unions’ contentions, while past precedents and pertinent statutory language indicate that the president has the authority to issue executive orders that carry the force of law with respect to federal labor relations, it is undisputed that no such orders can operate to eviscerate the right to bargain collectively as envisioned in the [statute]. In this Court’s view, the challenged provisions of the executive orders at issue have that cumulative effect.”

It’s important to note here that Jackson is a Barack Obama appointee with a progressive worldview. And this ruling is clearly in that Obama-era vein, where separate and distinct issues are conflated so as to justify a judicial decision that would otherwise be indefensible. Jackson concludes that Trump’s executive orders directly affect government employees’ collective bargaining rights, which in reality they do not. As Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw writes, “None of these things impact the ability of the unions to negotiate in good faith. Judge Jackson appears to be grasping for a penumbra (as in Roe v Wade) to stitch something together out of thin air. Hopefully this case can be quickly appealed and sent up the chain for a clearer response.”

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