Attorney General William Barr made public comments which took aim at judges who take it upon themselves to legislation from the bench.
Barr said that first and foremost, “The judge issuing a nationwide injunction acts as a one man or one woman counsel of revision.”
The attorney general went on to say that, “it inflates the role of the individual district court judges within the judicial structure. And that it is “the Constitution empowers Congress to create lower federal courts.”
“These days, clashes between Congress and the executive steal the headlines, as I know very well. But clashes between the judiciary and the political branches are also very weighty,” Barr said at a speech to the American Law Institute in Washington, D.C. according to CNN.
“These nationwide injunctions have frustrated presidential policy for most of the President’s term with no clear end in sight.”
Barr cited two recent decisions by federal judges in which they blocked the Trump administration from resending the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, saying that the courts are disrupting the executive branch’s ability to create and carry out policy.
“In one case, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld in November a nationwide injunction allowing DACA to remain in effect,” CNN reported. “The Department of Justice has a pending request with the Supreme Court to take up an appeal, but the justices have so far declined to do so, which Barr criticized in his speech Tuesday evening.”
“But the court has not granted any of those requests, and they languish on the conference docket. Unless the court acts quickly and decisively, we are unlikely to see a decision before mid-2020 at the earliest — that is, right before the next election. It is hard to imagine a clearer example of the stakes of nationwide injunctions,” Barr said.
He added: “While DACA case provides a stark example of the trend in nationwide injunctions at this point, it is hardly an outlier. Since President Trump took office, federal district courts have issued 37 nationwide injunctions against the executive branch. That’s more than one a month.”
The attorney general also said that he considers the increasingly frequent nationwide injunctions “undermine public confidence in the judiciary.”
“When a single judge can freeze policies nationwide, it is not hard to predict what plaintiffs will do. In Professor (Samuel) Bray’s memorable phrase, they ‘shop ’til the statute drops.’”