A new study found President Obama had a historically low win rate at the Supreme Court that “may be the worst since the Zachary Taylor administration.” Taylor’s presidency lasted little more than a year, from 1849-1850.
Obama’s side prevailed in 50.5 percent of cases at the Supreme Court, which was the lowest win rate in data dating back to 1932 included in the study, authored by University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner and Washington University in St. Louis professor Lee Epstein. In the 84 court terms and 13 presidents included in the study, Obama scored worst while President Reagan prevailed most frequently.
“Before Reagan, the president prevailed in 65 percent of his cases and captured 61 percent of all votes; during the Reagan years, those percentages increased significantly to 75 percent and 68 percent,” the study explained. “Obama’s performance was especially poor. He prevailed in just 50.5 percent of his cases — a percentage slightly lower than the states’ win rate while Obama was in office.”
The authors of the study attribute Obama’s awful performance to several factors. Presidents since Reagan have prevailed less frequently at the high court, and the study notes that “some commentators” believe that recent presidents have “aggressively asserted executive power based on strained interpretations of the Constitution and of statutes.” The study notes that under this interpretation, it’s possible that the Supreme Court responded by ruling against the president’s view more regularly.
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The study also notes that the quality of lawyers squaring off against the government has improved, making it more difficult for the president to prevail. The study says the specialized bar of Supreme Court lawyers that has emerged in recent years is “of equal or even higher quality than the president’s lawyers.”
A third potential explanation for the presidents’ declining win rate is that the presidents have moved further from the “center” ideologically.
The downward trend in presidents’ win rate at the Supreme Court likely spells bad news for President Trump. While Trump will have the opportunity to fill the high court vacancy created by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, Trump will confront the same challenges Obama faced in prevailing at the Supreme Court.
This post originally appeared on Washington Examiner