Republican Lawmakers Introduce Bill to End Nationwide Legal Injunctions

'This bill will restore respect for the system of government outlined in the Constitution'

Sen. Tom Cotton / Getty Images
September 11, 2019

Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R., N.C.) introduced legislation Wednesday to end nationwide injunctions after a California judge took action to stop a change in the Trump administration's asylum policy from going into effect.

The legislation, titled the "Nationwide Injunction Abuse Prevention Act," would prevent individual district court judges from issuing nationwide halts to new policies.

Earlier this week, a California district court judge reinstated a nationwide injunction against the Trump administration's new asylum policy, which halted its implementation. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the judge's decision Wednesday and allowed the policy to go into effect.

Cotton and Meadows blasted "activist" and "unaccountable" district judges in a press release about their bill.

"This legislation would restore the appropriate role of district court judges by prohibiting them from issuing nationwide injunctions broader than the parties to the case or the geographic boundaries of the federal district in which the judge presides," they wrote.

A similar bill in 2018 proposed prohibiting judges from issuing sweeping injunctions against the nationwide implementation of federal laws. It did not gain sufficient legislative momentum. Now, Meadows and Cotton are attempting to push through legislation of their own echoing criticisms made by Attorney General William Barr in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Last week, Barr argued for putting an end to nationwide injunctions in the article. He criticized injunctions for creating "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."

Both Cotton and Meadows echoed Barr's criticisms.

"In the past few years, we’ve seen an explosion of activist forum shopping and nationwide injunctions to thwart the administration’s priorities and grind government to a halt," Cotton said in the release. "This bill will restore respect for the system of government outlined in the Constitution by limiting the use of nationwide injunctions by district court judges."

Meadows also blasted individual activist judges, and added it "makes zero sense for the legality of a nationwide law to rest entirely on the opinion of one judge, or one district court."

"A district court in California should not be given sweeping authority to issue a ruling—let alone on dubious legal reasoning—striking down policy from a duly elected President," he said. "Current law inadvertently empowers detrimental judicial activism, and it needs to change."