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Texas vs. the Feds — A Look at the Lawsuits

Since President Obama took office in 2009, the state of Texas has sued his administration at least 48 times. Here's a look at each of those cases.

By Neena Satija, The Texas Tribune and Reveal, and Lindsay Carbonell and Ryan McCrimmon, The Texas Tribune
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Editor's note: This story is no longer being updated. For more information on the state's 2021 legal battles with the federal government, click here

Since President Obama took office in 2009, the state of Texas has sued his administration at least 48 times, according to a Texas Tribune analysis of state data — a point of pride for the state's Republican leaders. 

Former Texas Attorney General and current Gov. Greg Abbott filed 31 of those lawsuits. His successor, Ken Paxton, has mounted 17 such legal challenges since taking office in 2015. Paxton's office has provided cost estimates for 39 of those cases, which as of mid-2016 totaled about $5.9 million. 

So what did Texans get for their money? So far, there have been seven cases in the win column for the state, with 12 losses, nine cases withdrawn and 20 pending.  (Scroll down to see details on each case.)

In the state's most recent win, a split U.S. Supreme Court decision struck down Obama's executive order that would have provided relief from deportation to millions of people. But the outcome of that case could change after a new justice is appointed. Texas' most recent loss came in June, when a district judge in Dallas dismissed a lawsuit over the resettlement of Syrian refugees here. When the ruling came out, Paxton said that his office was "considering our options moving forward."

Many high-profile cases are still making their way through the legal process, including lawsuits over new limits on smog, directives on bathroom use in public schools and climate change policy

Paxton's office declined a request for an interview to discuss the cases. In the past, Texas officials have argued that even when lawsuits are not ultimately successful, they can stall costly regulations for years and prompt federal agencies to reconsider their policies.

While this analysis looks at lawsuits that Texas has filed against the Obama administration, the reverse happens, too. The Justice Department sued Texas in 2013 over its controversial voter ID law, and the U.S. 5th Circuit of Appeals largely agreed with the challenge. The appeals court's July decision is by no means final, with Texas likely to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Below is a look at all 48 cases where the state sued the Obama administration, color-coded by status and sorted by cost, with the most expensive lawsuits shown first. Use the menu to filter cases by subject matter and status. We summarize what the face-off is about, the total cost to the state and the standing of each lawsuit.

Jim Malewitz and Sophia Bollag contributed to this report.  


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Politics State government Attorney General's Office Barack Obama Greg Abbott Ken Paxton Texas Legislature