Activist judges have gone wild during the Trump presidency, blocking things like his travel ban to certain countries, his ending of the DACA program for young illegal immigrants, his move to redirect federal funding for a border wall, and his restrictions on openly transgender people serving in the military. In many of these cases, a federal judge in a left-leaning state like California or Hawaii issued a sweeping nationwide injunction preventing the policy from taking effect while court challenges play out.
Now, Attorney General William Barr is calling out this practice in a new op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Barr argues for an end to nationwide injunctions, saying they "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 points out that there have already been about 40 national injunctions issued against President Trump, double the number issued against President Obama during his entire eight years in office.
Texas attorney and appellate law expert Byron Henry agrees with Barr that nationwide injunctions are an abuse of separation-of-powers. "Courts are certainly supposed to be part of the checks and balances, but they are not a general review counsel for all executive and legislative decisions," he says.
Henry tells KTRH that injunctions should be limited to the specific jurisdiction of the judge and plaintiff. "Unfortunately with nationwide injunctions, it affects the entire country with one plaintiff in one locale, regardless of where that locale may be," he says.
The bottom line, according to Henry, is that these court injunctions are used as an end-around the people's elected officials. "Too often, when you can't win in the legislative branch, you either have the president issue an order or have a judge strike something down or enjoin it," he says. "I think that's bad medicine for both parties, and I don't think it is part of the Constitutional design."