Obscure clause lets Trump protect his orders
WASHINGTON – President Trump is turning to an obscure legal mechanism in an attempt to protect some of his most controversial executive orders in case they’re struck down in court.
It’s called a severability clause, and less than a year into his presidency Trump is on pace to use it more than all of his predecessors combined.
Usually found at the very bottom of executive orders and proclamations amid other boilerplate language, it acts as a built-in pressure release valve. It instructs courts to leave the rest of the order intact even if they find one of its provisions unconstitutional.
Such provisions are commonly found in contracts and legislation — and increasingly in executive orders.
The most recent: Trump’s two proclamations Monday reducing the size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah. Native American tribes and conservation groups have threatened lawsuits to block the move. But even if a court rules in their favor, Trump wants the judge to limit the scope of that ruling as narrowly as possible.
The White House has repeatedly expressed confidence that Trump’s more controversial executive orders — on travel, transgender troops and religious
“Putting the ... clause in there suggests that the administration is aware that the courts are not going to consistently approve the lawfulness of its actions.”
Elizabeth Goitein Brennan Center for Justice