May 8, 2019

Trump administration to begin challenging nationwide injunctions

Vice President Mike Pence

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence said in a speech Wednesday that the Trump administration will be asking the Supreme Court to challenge the rights of federal district courts to issue 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. [They] 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."
— Pence in a speech at the Federalist Society

What's next: A source confirmed to Axios that Attorney General Bill Barr will start moving on this in the next few days and that the Justice Department will begin looking for potential injunctions to appeal to the Supreme Court.

  • Justice Clarence Thomas noted in the Trump travel ban case that nationwide injunctions are "legally and historically dubious." Justice Neil Gorsuch has also expressed a similar sentiment.

Yes, but: AP notes, "For the Supreme Court to issue a definitive ruling on nationwide injunctions, it would first have to rule against the administration on the underlying merits of the case before it. Only at that point could the court consider whether a lower court order should apply nationwide or only to the people who are challenging an administration policy."

Past nationwide injunctions on Trump's policies:

  • A federal judge in California issued a nationwide injunction against Trump's plan to rollback the Affordable Care Act's contraception rules in 13 states.
  • A federal judge in Oregon issued a nationwide injunction against Trump's plan to stop offering federal funding to doctors who offer abortions.
  • A federal judge in California issued a nationwide injunction against Trump's plan to provide federal grants to police who enforce immigration rules.
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