Lawmakers take up bill to limit nationwide injunctions against Trump administration

September 10, 2018 GMT

The House Judiciary Committee will consider legislation this week to rein in the use of nationwide injunctions issued by federal district courts, pushing back against a practice that’s increasingly snaring the Trump administration.

Virginia Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte introduced the Injunctive Authority Clarification Act on Monday.

With a nationwide injunction, a single federal district judge can issue an order halting a policy for the entire country even if the other federal judges disagree with that decision.

President Obama faced a number of them in 2015 to stop his policies, most notably his deferred action policy protecting children brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents from deportation, while President Trump’s administration has had 22 nationwide injunctions issued against its policies.

“The Constitution gives courts the authority to decide cases for the parties before them, not to act as super-legislators for everyone across the country based on a single case,” Mr. Goodlatte said in a press release.

The issue is a growing controversy in legal circles.

Justice Clarence Thomas addressed it in an opinion on Mr. Trump’s travel ban, saying “universal injunctions are legally and historically dubious.”

He suggested the Supreme Court would step in if the practice continues to grow.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s newest Supreme Court nominee, was also probed about the issue during his confirmation hearing last week.

Sen. John Kennedy, Louisiana Republican, asked Judge Kavanaugh if there’s a statute or a clause in the U.S. Constitution that permits these lower judges to issue nationwide bans against an administration’s regulations.

“Senator, that is an issue that is being contested currently in courts around the country, I think, and as an issue of debate,” Judge Kavanaugh responded. “And therefore, I think I’d better say nothing about it. I apologize for that, but it is an issue of current debate.”