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house Bill H.R. 4292

Should Federal District Courts be Prohibited from Issuing Nationwide Injunctions?

Argument in favor

The abuse of national injunctions allows courts to bypass normal legislative channels to pursue individual judges’ agendas, politicizing the courts and taking policymaking power away from the legislative and executive branches. Ending district courts’ use of nationwide injunctions will prevent unelected judges from wrongfully blocking policies crafted and enacted by publicly elected legislators.

Mark's Opinion
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09/30/2019
District Courts are just that. District. They should NOT be allowed to issue nationwide injunctions. Their authority is limited to their respective districts, as it should be.
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09/29/2019
Of course! They only have jurisdiction over the states in their district, by definition. That’s why the system is set up as it is. They don’t have nationwide jurisdiction. Even appellate courts don’t have nationwide jurisdiction, only over their circuit. It’s a violation of separation of powers for a rogue judge to usurp presidential authority even for their own district, let alone the nation. Their rulings are nullities outside their jurisdiction and probably within it as well. Need a sound appellate court to reign in tyrannical district court judges.
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Sandy 's Opinion
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09/29/2019
Because the officials that abuse it know exactly which district courts and judges that will not refer to the law books, but will follow the will and agenda of the group that refers the issue to them. It’s unjust to allow one biased person who has been appointed to dictate what actions are to be taken by elected officials.
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Argument opposed

National injunctions are a necessary court-based check against executive overreach, especially in the current political climate. Blocking district courts from issuing national injunctions is a clear partisan move that seeks to limit courts’ abilities to block the Trump administration’s most divisive — and often legally questionable — policies.

jimK's Opinion
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09/29/2019
Preventing district courts from issuing nationwide injunctions would seriously overload the court system, allow parochially biased rulings in the interest of their districts instead of the National Interest, and force many more issues to have to be resolved by the Supreme Court. It would certainly overload and greatly delay court resolution of National issues. We need more concern as a Nation about doing what is best for the public good of all of us; and not what is just best for me, my state, my business, my religion and so forth. Limiting district court decisions to just their districts can only add to the divisiveness that plagues our Country.
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Bhuvanesh's Opinion
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09/29/2019
This is an obviously partisan play for power by the Republicans. They would have supported nationwide injunctions by federal judges during President Obama's presidency.
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Jeff's Opinion
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09/29/2019
No. These judges are some of the last protections for people with operational minds, protection from the orange goose-stepping fascist.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedSeptember 11th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 4292?

This bill — the Nationwide Injunction Abuse Prevention Act of 2019 — would put an end to district courts’ issuance of nationwide injunctions (sometimes also called “non-party injunctions”). National injunctions prohibit the enforcement of a federal law or regulation not only against the plaintiff, but also in any other instance pending the final outcome of the case. 

Impact

Plaintiffs and defendants in cases where a national injunction could be issued; federal courts; politicized disputes that end up in district courts; and the U.S. Code.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4292

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) introduced this bill to put an end to nationwide injunctions and prevent lawful policy changes from being blocked based on the activist agendas of individual, unaccountable district court judges

“Our laws need to be vigorously vetted through the courts, but it makes zero sense for the legality of a nationwide law to rest entirely on the opinion of one judge, or one district court. A district court in California should not be given sweeping authority to issue a ruling—let alone on dubious legal reasoning—striking down policy from a duly elected President. Current law inadvertently empowers detrimental judicial activism, and it needs to change. This is a common-sense reform that returns our system of checks and balances where it was intended to be. I want to thank Senator Cotton for joining me in the effort.”

Senate sponsor Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) adds that legislators, not judges, should make policy decisions:

“Policy decisions ought to be made by elected representatives accountable to the American people, not activist judges with lifetime appointments. In the past few years, we’ve seen an explosion of activist forum shopping and nationwide injunctions to thwart the administration’s priorities and grind government to a halt. This bill will restore respect for the system of government outlined in the Constitution by limiting the use of nationwide injunctions by district court judges.”

Attorney General William Barr advocated for ending national injunctions in a September 5, 2019 Wall Street Journal op-ed calling national injunctions a threat to the democratic system: 

“When a federal court issues an order against enforcement of a government policy, the ruling traditionally applies only to the plaintiff in that case. Over the past several decades, however, some lower court federal judges have increasingly resorted to a procedural device—the ‘nationwide injunction’—to prevent the government from enforcing a policy against anyone in the country. Shrewd lawyers have learned to ‘shop’ for a sympathetic judge willing to issue such an injunction. These days, virtually every significant congressional or presidential initiative is enjoined—often within hours—threatening our democratic system.”

Barr argued that this dynamic creates “an unfair, one-way system in which the democratically accountable government must fend off case after case to put its policy into effect, while those challenging the policy need only find a single sympathetic judge."

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas criticized nationwide injunctions in a 2018 decision upholding President Trump’s ability to enforce U.S. immigration laws against nationwide injunctions. In the decision, Justice Thomas wrote that nationwide injunctions “take a toll on the federal court system — preventing legal questions from percolating… [and] encouraging forum shopping, and making every case a national emergency for the courts and…the Executive Branch.”

At the 2018 Appellate Judges Education Institute (AJEI) Summit in Atlanta, American University Washington College of Law professor Amanda Frost argued that nationwide injunctions can be lawful in appropriate cases, especially when used to remedy the injury or harm that’s at stake in a suit. She pointed out that ending the use of nationwide injunctions would make it so that every person who’s harmed or affected by a certain policy to sue separately to be made whole — which is often infeasible.

Professor Frost expounded upon the circumstances in which nationwide injunctions are appropriate in an appearance on the National Constitution Center’s podcast, “We the People.” She identified three cases in which nationwide injunctions are appropriate: 1) when they’re the only way to give a plaintiff complete relief, such as in school discrimination cases; 2) when irreparable harm would be done to large numbers of people if they weren’t included, as was the case with President Trump’s travel ban; and 3) when it would be administratively very difficult to provide narrow relief, such as would be the case with environmental rules definining water regulations.

Frost also argues that the rise in nationwide injunctions is a natural response to increased unilateral executive branch activity, wherein major policy initiatives are undertaken without legislative authorization. Frost presents the nationwide injunction as a necessary counter to potentially excessive executive power.

This legislation has three Republican House cosponsors. Its Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), doesn’t have any cosponsors


Of NoteRep. Meadows introduced this bill after the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California reinstated a nationwide ban on enforcement of the Trump administration’s new asylum rules. This rule defied a ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which had ruled that the district court’s nationwide injunction was overly broad. 

In a letter to his Congressional colleagues seeking cosponsors for this legislation in early September 2019, Rep. Meadows noted that federal district courts have issued 37 nationwide injunctions against the executive branch since President Donald Trump took office. This number dwarfs the 27 nationwide injunctions issued in the entire 20th century. It also far exceeds the 20 nationwide injunctions during President Barack Obama’s eight years in office.

Speaking at the Federalist Society’s Seventh Annual Executive Branch Review Conference in May 2019, Vice President Mike Pence noted the sheer breadth of issues that have been subject to injunctive relief over the course of the Trump administration: 

“[T]he kind of government control that our Founders were concerned about is too often exerted by the administrative state in this country.  And it’s been emerging in recent years in the federal judiciary in the form of nationwide injunctions. These orders are issued by federal district court judges on a broad range of issues — from national security to immigration, from border security to healthcare reform.  And these orders prevent the entire Executive Branch from enforcing a statute, a regulation, or a policy on a nationwide basis. And they apply everywhere, to everyone, granting relief even to those who are not parties to a case.”

Broadly speaking, President Trump and his allies have railed against court rulings that block White House policies, especially on immigration. They claim that injunctions are proof that Democrat-appointed “activist” judges are impeding on the White House’s constitutional powers. As an example of this thinking, in May 2019, President Trump tweeted the following after a judge partially blocked construction of his long-promised border wall: 

“Another activist Obama appointed judge has just ruled against us on a section of the Southern Wall that is already under construction. This is a ruling against Border Security and in favor of crime, drugs and human trafficking. We are asking for an expedited appeal!”

For the first 170 years after America’s founding, there were no national injunctions, precisely because courts recognized that they would go beyond the “judicial power.” Since that time, there’s been a gradual evolution allowing the practice to avoid careful constitutional scrutiny.

In recent years, each party’s view on injunctions has been colored by whether it’s in power. Christopher Walker, a law professor at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, notes that since the most recent change in presidential administration, “Democrats have found the nationwide injunction great again whereas Republicans see this remedial tool as not so great anymore.

Legal scholars are divided over whether nationwide injunctions should be allowed. Samuel L. Bray, a professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School, contends that the nationwide injunction is a recent development that is generally inconsistent with traditional English and American equity practices. He argues that federal courts should not issue nationwide injunctions, but should instead provide relief only in favor of the particular plaintiff(s) in litigation. 


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Chris Ryan)

AKA

Nationwide Injunction Abuse Prevention Act of 2019

Official Title

To amend title 28, United States Code, to limit the authority of district courts to provide injunctive relief, and for other purposes.

    District Courts are just that. District. They should NOT be allowed to issue nationwide injunctions. Their authority is limited to their respective districts, as it should be.
    Like (54)
    Follow
    Share
    Preventing district courts from issuing nationwide injunctions would seriously overload the court system, allow parochially biased rulings in the interest of their districts instead of the National Interest, and force many more issues to have to be resolved by the Supreme Court. It would certainly overload and greatly delay court resolution of National issues. We need more concern as a Nation about doing what is best for the public good of all of us; and not what is just best for me, my state, my business, my religion and so forth. Limiting district court decisions to just their districts can only add to the divisiveness that plagues our Country.
    Like (107)
    Follow
    Share
    This is an obviously partisan play for power by the Republicans. They would have supported nationwide injunctions by federal judges during President Obama's presidency.
    Like (45)
    Follow
    Share
    No. These judges are some of the last protections for people with operational minds, protection from the orange goose-stepping fascist.
    Like (41)
    Follow
    Share
    This is a core check and balance on the executive branch.
    Like (33)
    Follow
    Share
    Of course! They only have jurisdiction over the states in their district, by definition. That’s why the system is set up as it is. They don’t have nationwide jurisdiction. Even appellate courts don’t have nationwide jurisdiction, only over their circuit. It’s a violation of separation of powers for a rogue judge to usurp presidential authority even for their own district, let alone the nation. Their rulings are nullities outside their jurisdiction and probably within it as well. Need a sound appellate court to reign in tyrannical district court judges.
    Like (23)
    Follow
    Share
    Nationwide injunctions provide relief from executive over-reach and burdensome or even harmful requirements! Injunctions maintain the status quo until a final decision can be reached!
    Like (21)
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    This Legislation would seriously overload our Court System. It would give the Executive Branch way too much power over the country, simultaneously forcing many more cases to the Supreme Court. They’re called Federal District Courts for a reason!
    Like (20)
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    Federal judges, federal law. That’s the whole point. It’s the whole country. The “districts” aren’t political, they are logistical. The Judiciary is a coequal branch of the Federal Government! Blatant stupidity and unconstitutional.
    Like (19)
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    Because the officials that abuse it know exactly which district courts and judges that will not refer to the law books, but will follow the will and agenda of the group that refers the issue to them. It’s unjust to allow one biased person who has been appointed to dictate what actions are to be taken by elected officials.
    Like (14)
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    It seems to be a partisan political issue to be profitable to Republicans since they are the courts focus in several complaints. We need those courts to step in where grabs of power are dangerous. They are Federal courts.
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    That’s a district court not a court of appeals! We need to get rid of liberal activist judges that like to legislate from the bench! Proof Positive? Trump has flipped the 9th Curcite Court in San Fran of all places! Let’s get our Republic Back! MAGA 2020🇺🇸👍💯😇
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    No. The Executive branch has too much power as proven by the Trump administration stone walling on their testimonies during the Mueller investigation and now the investigation by the house committee. They don’t even produce documents under court order which is illegal. It is the constitutional job of the House and Senate to balance the power of the executive branch but they are not being given what they need to do their job. So, we don’t need a Republican trying to give Trump more power; we need Republicans to stand up and speak the truth about what they really think about Trump
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    It’s a Federal court. It should have Federal jurisdiction for decisions.
    Like (11)
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    If a law is deemed unconstitutional by a judge who’s responsibility it is to interpret the law and the constitution, then the law should not remain in force anywhere in the country! This the job of the federal courts, to provide a check against Congress and the Executive branch and we all know that checks against the White House are needed today more than ever!
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    Why in the world would anyone propose something so incredibly stupid? It’s a federal district court. They work (in theory) in the interest of all citizens. You cannot limit an injunction to a district of its harmful to EVERYONE. Honestly, I continue to be disgusted by the lengths that the Republican Party will go to circumvent the will of the MAJORITY in furtherance of their own greed, personal interests, racism, and bigotry. That anyone supports the awful agenda they put forth is beyond me.
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    No! This will inspire Trump to continue to manipulate and commit crimes and deviant schemes. No!
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    Especially in view of this administration -Trump’s erratic anti-fair government policies.
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    District courts should have no power beyond their district, in no way should they inhibit federal policy on a national level. They can rule against and it can go to the higher court.
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    Uphold the American legal system as it is! Stop trying to change the rules for partisan politics!
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