How NRDC Sues the President

Our lawyers are going after the administration’s outright illegal actions.

This is a transcript of the video.

NANCY MARKS, senior attorney, NRDC: One of the ways we stay sane around here is knowing our name is on a complaint that has Trump as a defendant. Right now, the courts are one of our best defenses against Trump.

PERRIN IRELAND, science writer, NRDC: I imagine it would be a real rush to get to sue the president in times like these, but how does that even work?

So we learn in grade school about checks and balances, but the courts can't do their whole checks-and-balance thing until someone brings a lawsuit.

I happen to work in a place that specializes in that.

Since inauguration, we've sued the Trump administration about once every 10 days. Some of these lawsuits name Donald Trump himself as the defendant.

Here's the deal. You can sue a president for the same reason you would sue anyone else: because they broke the law. If the president breaks the law, like when he signs an illegal executive order, NRDC sues him by name.

In one of our NRDC v. Trump cases, we've joined with other environmental groups to block the president's executive order to dismantle Bears Ears National Monument. We're also suing the president by name for trying to open the Arctic and Atlantic oceans to drilling.

When an agency breaks the law, we sue either the agency or its leader instead of suing Trump himself. In NRDC v. Pruitt, we're suing the EPA administrator for throwing out a rule that protects pollinators from a dangerous pesticide. After we filed NRDC v. U.S. Department of the Interior, the administration listed the rusty patched bumblebee as an endangered species. In these cases, we've asked judges to force Trump appointees to just do their jobs.

In addition to deciding whom we have to sue, there are lots of rules about when you can sue. Many of these early lawsuits are called "facial challenges." This means we think Trump's actions in those cases are illegal on their very face. If an order is just baseline illegal and we can stop it before it starts, then we can prevent any of the drills from ever getting near our coastlines.

We are not down with this administration's efforts to open up public resources to private industry exploitation.

In our next video, I'll talk about how NRDC is going after government secrecy with a different set of lawsuits.

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