Immediately after District Court Judge Amos Mazzant issued a preliminary injunction Nov. 22 preventing newfrom taking effect, the Department of Labor said it was taking stock of its legal options.
That’s inside-the-Beltway code for “We didn’t see this coming.”
Mazzant’s order makes clear he believes the plaintiffs will win their lawsuit. He could decide any day to make permanent his injunction, vacating the rules as if they never existed.
If that happens, the DOL will almost certainly appeal to the 5th Circuit, asking for an expedited review. But the 5th Circuit is a traditionally conservative appeals court that overturns few lower court decisions. If it declines to do so in this case, the DOL’s next step would be an expedited appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Throughout the appeals, the Obama administration will feel the ticking of a clock counting down to a hard deadline: Jan. 20, when Donald J. Trump is sworn in as president. If the overtime rules aren’t upheld by then, they are likely dead in their current form. The Trump administration is unlikely to support either a $47,476 salary threshold or automatic increases every three years.
Most likely outcome: A fresh start on rewriting the overtime rules, a process that—if past is prologue—will probably take at least two years.