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Monday, February 13, 2017

Courts - Want to know more about federal district courts issuing national injunctions?

On Nov. 3, 2016, Amanda Frost had this "Academic Highlight" in SCOTUSblog that began:

Should a single district court judge issue a nationwide injunction against the federal government? That question was front and center in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s tie vote in United States v. Texas, which left in place a nationwide preliminary injunction barring the Obama administration from granting a temporary reprieve from removal to certain unauthorized immigrants. Would-be beneficiaries of President Barack Obama’s initiative have filed lawsuits in Illinois and New York, arguing that the injunction should not apply outside the states that were parties to the lawsuit. The propriety of nationwide injunctions has come up recently in other contexts as well. Over the past few months, district courts have issued nationwide injunctions barring implementation of the Labor Department’s “persuader rule” and the Education Department’s transgender bathroom policy. Did these courts overstep their bounds?
And of course it has come up again this month, in State of Washington v. Donald Trump, re the travel ban.

Frost's SCOTUSblog article continued:

In a new paper, UCLA School of Law professor Samuel Bray examines the history of nationwide injunctions, as well as their costs and benefits. He concludes with a sensible proposal for limiting such injunctions and argues that the Supreme Court has both the power to impose such a rule and the incentive to do so to ensure that legal issues have a chance to percolate in the courts of appeal.
Here is the abstract to the 63-page, Feb. 9, 2017 version of Bray's paper, "Multiple Chancellors: Reforming the National Injunction."
In several recent high-profile cases, federal district judges have issued injunctions that apply across the nation, controlling the defendants’ behavior with respect to non-parties. This Article offers a new analysis of the scope of injunctions to restrain the enforcement of a federal statute, regulation, or order. It considers the consequences of the national injunction: more forum-shopping, worse judicial decision-making, a risk of conflicting injunctions, and tension with other doctrines of federal courts. This Article makes two further contributions.

First, it shows that the national injunction is a recent development in the history of equity, traceable to the second half of the twentieth century. There was structural shift at the Founding from a single-chancellor model to multiple-chancellor model, though the vulnerabilities in the latter did not became visible until the mid-to-late twentieth century, with changes in how judges thought about legal challenges and invalid laws. Only with those changes did the national injunction emerge.

Second, this Article proposes a single clear principle for the scope of injunctions against federal defendants. A federal court should give what might be called a “plaintiff-protective injunction,” enjoining the defendant’s conduct only with respect to the plaintiff. No matter how important the question and no matter how important the value of uniformity, a federal court should not award a national injunction. This principle is based on Article III's grant of "the judicial Power," which is a power to decide cases for parties; and on the practice of traditional equity.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 13, 2017 10:18 AM
Posted to Courts in general