Attorney General William Barr is addressing a long-standing issue of concern for President Donald Trump—judges who issue rulings blocking nationwide policies.
In a speech Tuesday night, May 22, Barr took aim at the broad judicial power, arguing that federal judges who have issued so-called nationwide injunctions are hampering President Trump’s efforts on immigration, health care, and other issues.
Barr said, “These injunctions have frustrated presidential policy for most of the president’s term with no clear end in sight. We’re more than halfway through the president’s term and the administration has not been able to rescind the signature immigration initiative of the previous administration, even though it rests entirely on discretion.”
The attorney general is traditionally expected to carry out the president’s agenda as a member of the Cabinet while trying to avoid political bias.
At a re-election rally earlier this month, President Trump criticized “activist judges who issue nationwide injunctions based on their personal beliefs,” which he said “undermine democracy and threaten the rule of law.”
Administration officials have complained about the proliferation of nationwide injunctions since Trump became president.
Barr highlighted the legal fights that have occurred in federal courts across the country over Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, an Obama-era program that shelters young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children but don’t have legal status to protect them from deportation.
Barr explained, “The Justice Department has tried for more than a year to get the Supreme Court to review the lower court decisions ordering us to keep DACA in place, but the court has not granted any of those requests and they languish on the conference docket.”
The Justice Department, under former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, argued that the Obama administration acted unlawfully when it implemented DACA. Texas and other Republican-led states eventually sued and won a partial victory in a federal court in Texas.
Civil rights groups, advocates for immigrants, and Democratic-led states all have sued to prevent the end of the program. A three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled that the administration decision to end DACA was arbitrary and capricious.
Barr said President Trump “lost much of his leverage” in negotiations with congressional Democrats after one district court judge issued an order forcing the administration to maintain the program nationwide.