“The real problem here is the increasingly common practice of trial courts ordering relief that transcends the cases before them. Whether framed as injunctions of ‘nationwide,’ ‘universal,’ or ‘cosmic’ scope, these orders share the same basic flaw—they direct how the defendant must act toward persons who are not parties to the case….
“Equitable remedies, like remedies in general, are meant to redress the injuries sustained by a particular plaintiff in a particular lawsuit. When a district court orders the government not to enforce a rule against the plaintiffs in the case before it, the court redresses the injury that gives rise to its jurisdiction in the first place. But when a court goes further than that, ordering the government to take (or not take) some action with respect to those who are strangers to the suit, it is hard to see how the court could still be acting in the judicial role of resolving cases and controversies. Injunctions like these thus raise serious questions about the scope of courts’ equitable powers under Article III”…
It has become increasingly apparent that this Court must, at some point, confront these important objections to this increasingly widespread practice. As the brief and furious history of the regulation before us illustrates, the routine issuance of universal injunctions is patently unworkable, sowing chaos for litigants, the government, courts, and all those affected by these conflicting decisions…
“If a single successful challenge is enough to stay the challenged rule across the country, the government’s hope of implementing any new policy could face the long odds of a straight sweep, parlaying a 94- to-0 win in the district courts into a 12-to-0 victory in the courts of appeal. A single loss and the policy goes on ice— possibly for good, or just as possibly for some indeterminate period of time until another court jumps in to grant a stay. And all that can repeat, ad infinitum, until either one side gives up or this Court grants certiorari.”
——Justice Neil Gorsuch, concurring in the grant of the stay of a nationwide injunction imposed by a district judge in New York against the implementation of the Trump administration’s new immigration standards.
The new rules impose additional criteria for determining which potential immigrants are likely to be dependent on the U.S. government for benefits and therefore ineligible for green cards and eventual U.S. citizenship. These were proposed in October, 2019, but have been blocked by Democratic judges until today’s decision.
The new policy provides positive and negative factors for immigration officials to consider as they rule on green-card applications. The negative factors include whether a person is unemployed, has dropped out of high school or isn’t conversant in English. (GOOD.) U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels sided with challengers who argued the changes would reverse 130 years of how the “public charge” definition has been interpreted. Daniels wrote that such a change would be “repugnant to the American Dream of the opportunity for prosperity and success through hard work and upward mobility.”
(Psst! Judge! “The American Dream” isn’t a law.)
One can agree or disagree with the new policy, but Gorsuch’s admonition cannot not be fairly questioned. One of the offensive and undemocratic devices employed by “the resistance” to prevent the Trump administration from governing has been the process Gorsuch deplores, where judges in specific jurisdictions interfere with national policies. This was extremely rare before 2016; now, it is almost automatic. Naturally, and depressingly, the liberal block of the Supreme Court voted to endorse the practice and permit the injunction to continue. None of the four Justices even bothered to issue a justification for their vote. They just went along with the ” team.”
That appears to be a political, rather than a judicial position. Gorsuch’s argument seems manifestly reasonable and indeed urgent.
The “resistance” wants a dysfunctional government as long as Donald Trump is President. The courts should not abet that unethical strategy, or be a part of it.
The entire opinion is here.
Source: Washington Post