A Fortune of Reversals
As the outgoing President plans for life after four years in office, Donald Trump will face a “Reversal of Fortune.” While very different than the Claus von Bulow movie of the same name, Trump's version will have just as much intrigue. There are myriad ways in which his reversal of fortune will unfold. No longer will the US taxpayers subsidize his golf outings. The halls of the White House will soon be Trump-less, both for the President as well as his nepotistic family members. Air Force One will chart flight paths that do not end at Mar-a-Lago.
Perhaps the most significant reversal of fortune for ex-President Trump will be the opportunity for Inspectors General to initiate lawsuits naming him as Defendant. No longer under the pseudo-protection of the Justice Department, he can be held accountable for his past sins. The question remains as to whether the American public will have the resolve to pursue such, or whether a vocal GOP will permit it to develop.
Rather than explore the reversal of fortune for our ex-President, it seems a worthy exercise to ruminate on the fortune of reversals. Incoming President Joe Biden will begin his term on January 20, 2021. One of the hallmarks of any new person in the office of the Presidency is what actions are taken during the first 100 days. Joe Biden will be faced with the task of a fortune of reversals of policies enacted by Trump during his term.
Anti-LGBTQ Executive Orders will be high on the list of reversals. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has composed a “Blueprint for Positive Change,” a 24-page document listing 85 recommendations on which the Biden-Harris team could act.
Among the top 10 issues is the ban on transgender persons serving in the military. The prohibitive Executive Order came in the summer of 2017. Fifty-six retired generals and admirals signed a letter opposing the ban. It read, in part, that the ban “would cause significant disruptions, deprive the military of mission-critical talent and compromise the integrity of transgender troops who would be forced to live a lie, as well as non-transgender peers who would be forced to choose between reporting their comrades or disobeying policy.”
Another key reversal that President-elect Biden could initiate is Trump's non-implementation of the Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County. This ruling, from June 15, 2020, found that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is illegal in employment situations. The basis for this finding is that “sex,” as defined in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes these protections. While choosing to ignore the ruling, Trump directed its non-enforcement.
The protections granted by the Affordable Care Act, Section 1557, state that such protections cover sexual orientation and gender identity. However, on June 12, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a statement that “[HHS] finalized a rule under Section 1557 of the [ACA] that maintains vigorous enforcement of federal civil rights law on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age and sex, and restores the rule of law by revising certain provisions that go beyond the plain meaning of the law as enacted by Congress.”
In typical Trump double-speak, a declaration stripping rights away from the LGBTQ community was cast in self-aggrandizing terms. “HHS respects the dignity of every human being, and as we have shown in our response to the pandemic, we vigorously protect and enforce the civil rights of all to the fullest extent permitted by our laws as passed by Congress. We are unwavering in our commitment to enforcing civil rights in healthcare.”
One Trump loyalist who has survived constant criticism of her policies and rulings on behalf of an anti-LGBTQ administration is Betsy DeVos. She has never been involved with public education in any form, and has turned education in the United States on its head.
President-elect Joe Biden and his new Education Secretary will devote time and resources to undo her directives. Among these include DeVos's guidance to school districts to ignore requests by transgender students to use bathroom facilities according to gender identity, along with use of their preferred names and pronouns. Lastly, federal funding must end for private schools and universities that discriminate against LGBTQ students. Under DeVos, the barn door has long been open for flagrant offenses of an otherwise affirming policy.
Beginning January 20, 2021, there will be a reversal of fortune for ex-President Donald Trump. There will also be a fortune of reversals to which the Biden-Harris White House will devote themselves. The list is long. We all wait to see what is done in the first 100 days and beyond.