Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday, May 21, said he has noticed a troubling trend of nationwide injunctions issued by lower courts that have taken their toll on President Trump’s agenda and threaten the political process for future administrations.
In a speech Tuesday night, Barr took aim at the broad judicial power, arguing that federal judges who have issued the so-called nationwide injunctions are hampering Trump’s efforts on immigration, health care, and other issues with “no clear end in sight.”
He pointed to the district court in California that in January 2018 issued a temporary injunction to block the Trump administration from ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
DACA has protected about 800,000 people who were brought to the United States illegally as children or came with families who overstayed visas. The Obama-era program includes hundreds of thousands of college-age students.
At a re-election rally earlier this month, Trump railed against “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 often complained about the proliferation of nationwide injunctions since Trump became president. Vice President Mike Pence said a few weeks ago that the administration intends to challenge the right of federal district courts to issue such rulings.
“The legal community and the broader public should be more concerned, particularly about this trend of nationwide injunctions,” Barr said.
Barr highlighted the legal fights that have happened in federal courts across the country over Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Barr said Trump “lost much of his leverage” in negotiations with congressional Democrats, who were pushing for a permanent solution for DACA recipients, after one district court judge issued an order forcing the administration to maintain the program nationwide.
“Unsurprisingly, those negotiations did not lead to a deal,” Barr said.
In his speech to the American Law Institute, Barr argued it isn’t about partisanship and said the approach taken by judges who issue these nationwide rulings departs not only from the limitations of the Constitution, but also from the “traditional understanding of the role of courts.” The Justice Department will continue to oppose such rulings, he said.
“Nationwide injunctions not only allow district courts to wield unprecedented power, they also allow district courts to wield it asymmetrically,” Barr said.
The White House was swift to criticize these lower court injunctions and called this particular decision “outrageous.” Pence recently said the administration will ask the Supreme Court to bar them.
Barr told the Wall Street Journal in a recent interview that he is defending the presidency, not Trump.
“If you destroy the presidency and make it an errand boy for Congress, we’re going to be a much weaker and more divided nation,” he said.
This article was edited by TheBL.