The Trump administration issued a new rule in July that changed the process for migrants seeking asylum in the United States, requiring them to apply for asylum in the first safe country they reached prior to the U.S. That new rule was, of course, blocked by an activist judge in California who issued a nationwide injunction against implementation.
The case was appealed, and a panel of Ninth Circuit Court judges, somewhat surprisingly, struck down the nationwide injunction and limited it to just California and Arizona as the case was remanded back to the district court for reconsideration. But that district court judge just insisted that a nationwide injunction was necessary and proper and reimposed the block on the new asylum rule.
Obama-appointed judge reinstates injunction
The new asylum rule issued by the Trump administration was meant to help stem massive influx of Central American migrants at the southern border with Mexico by requiring asylum seekers to apply for such status in the first safe country they reached.
Democrats and pro-migrant activists balked at the new rule and sued to halt enforcement. The Obama-appointed judge in the case, Judge Jon Tigar, sided with the activist groups and imposed a nationwide injunction that blocked the new rule from taking effect while the merits of the case were argued.
The injunction was appealed, and a Ninth Circuit Court panel of judges determined that Tigar had overstepped his jurisdiction in issuing an overly broad injunction. As such, the block was narrowed to apply solely to the Ninth Circuit’s jurisdiction, which would include only California and Arizona, and the case was sent back to Tigar for further development.
But in a 14-page ruling issued Sept. 9, Tigar used circular logic, dubious precedents, and twisted reasoning to argue that new rule would be so harmful to the activist plaintiffs that a nationwide injunction was indeed necessary, and he promptly reimposed the block.
The administration will assuredly appeal this new ruling in short order, and in the likely event that the nationwide injunction is now upheld, it will attempt to fast-track a subsequent appeal to the Supreme Court.
Barr’s decries abuse of injunctions
Interestingly, Judge Tigar’s ruling came just days after Attorney General William Barr published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal excoriating the dramatically increased frequency with which district judges are overstepping their limited jurisdictions and issuing nationwide injunctions to stop a multitude of new laws and regulations by the Trump administration from ever being implemented.
Barr argued that injunctions were intended to be limited in nature and designed to protect only the parties directly impacted in a particular case, and he further noted that there was already a mechanism in place to address relief for affected non-parties, namely, class-action lawsuits.
“Nationwide injunctions, by contrast, create 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,” Barr wrote.
Barr cited a recent quote from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas which warned that the high court may have to take action to stem the practice of lower courts issuing broad injunctions, and wrote, “It is indeed well past time for our judiciary to re-examine a practice that embitters the political life of the nation, flouts constitutional principles, and stultifies sound judicial administration, all at the cost of public confidence in our institutions.”
It will be interesting to see what the Ninth Circuit does about the district judge who essentially ignored the higher court’s ruling, and also whether the federal bench will take steps to put an end to the abuse and misuse of injunctions by activist judges bent on thwarting an administration with which it disagrees politically.