Administrative Law

Donald Trump

President Donald Trump. Photo from

Going before judges appointed by GOP presidents hasn’t helped President Donald Trump much in agency matters, a new study has found.

The Trump administration has won only 36% of court challenges to agency decisions before GOP-appointed judges, according to a study by Bethany Davis Noll, a professor at the New York University School of Law. Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush fared better before politically aligned judges in such cases, winning 68% to 84% of the time.

Thomson Reuters Legal summarized the study, while Noll and Christine Pries summarized the findings in an article for the Hill. Noll is litigation director for NYU’s Institute for Policy Integrity, while Pries is its associate director for strategy and operations. The study counts an appellate panel as Republican if a majority of the judges are appointed by GOP presidents.

Before all judges, the Trump administration has a win rate of only 17% in challenges to agency policy, a record that is worse than that of any other president, Noll and Pries wrote in the Hill. Past administrations won about 70% of such cases.

“Our analysis shows that, with an especially aggressive administration bent in many cases on flouting the intent of Congress, those legal constraints [in the Administrative Procedure Act] can make a difference,” Noll and Pries wrote.

In half of the cases lost by the Trump administration, the agency failed to follow notice-and-comment procedures, or the agency failed to provide a reasoned explanation for the agency decision, or both occurred, according to the Thomson Reuters Legal summary.

Data for the study will continue to be collected until Jan. 20. The results will be published next year in the Administrative Law Review.