President Donald Trump’s administration asked the U.S. Supreme Court this week to suspend nationwide orders by federal judges blocking two of his major policies in an unusual step but one in line with an aggressive White House litigation strategy.
The Supreme Court traditionally has been viewed as the court of last resort in the United States, but Trump’s Justice Department increasingly has tried to enlist it in paring back or halting unfavorable rulings by lower courts on signature Trump policies, often at early stages of litigation. In another tactic, the administration has asked the justices to review disputes even before lower appeals courts have acted.
Trump has appointed conservatives Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch to lifetime jobs on the Supreme Court since taking office last year, cementing its 5-4 conservative majority. The Republican president often has criticized lower court rulings that went against his policies and expressed his desire to be heard by the Supreme Court instead.
On Tuesday, the administration asked the high court for a stay of a San Francisco-based federal judge’s nationwide injunction that blocked Trump’s policy prohibiting asylum for immigrants who enter the United States outside an official port of entry.
On Thursday, the administration asked the court to stay nationwide injunctions issued by federal judges blocking Trump’s plan to bar some transgender people from serving in the military, if the justices decline an unusual earlier request to review the cases before lower appeals courts have ruled.
Since Trump took office in January 2017, lower courts have issued a series of nationwide injunctions blocking a number of his policies such as his travel ban targeting people from several Muslim-majority countries – a policy the Supreme Court later allowed to go into effect.
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who Trump ousted last month, had criticized federal judges for such injunctions. In Thursday’s stay request over the transgender military policy, U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, the administration’s top Supreme Court lawyer, did too.
“Such injunctions previously were rare, but in recent years they have become routine,” Francisco wrote, adding that 25 such injunctions had been imposed on the Trump administration.
Michael McConnell, who previously served alongside Gorsuch as a conservative judge on the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and is now a professor of law at Stanford University in California, said the administration is responding to a recent legal development.
The issuance of nationwide injunctions like that ones that have drawn the administration’s ire did not become common until late in the Obama administration and have now “proliferated in this administration,” McConnell said, adding that judges should limit the scope of their injunctions.
“The (solicitor general) cannot be faulted for responding to the new circumstances,” McConnell said.
This week’s two Justice Department requests for the Supreme Court to lift nationwide injunctions followed other administration efforts to stop trials in lower courts over federal policies, prevent documents from being released or shield administration officials from questioning.
Robert Loeb, a former Justice Department official who served under presidents of both parties, said the “amazing” number of Trump administration requests to the Supreme Court reflected a belief that its conservative majority will be sympathetic toward Trump.
“They may be breaking institutional boundaries because they view it as a more favorable forum than in the past,” Loeb said.
Loeb said the Justice Department’s actions repeatedly seeking early relief from lower court orders risk undermining the credibility of the solicitor general’s office and politicizing the Supreme Court.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The administration has asked the high court with some success for help in disputes over evidence, including in its bid to rescind a program created by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama that protects from deportation hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children, and in its plan to add a contentious citizenship question to the 2020 census.
There are signs that the administration’s offensive against nationwide injunctions may be paying off in lower courts.
The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a liberal-leaning court that Trump often criticizes, on Thursday narrowed an injunction issued by a federal judge against a plan to expand exemptions to birth control insurance, saying its nationwide scope was “overbroad.”
In August, the 9th Circuit also threw out the nationwide aspect of an injunction issued by a federal judge involving the administration’s move to withhold certain federal funding from so-called “sanctuary cities” that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities.
The degree to which the high court will be amenable to the administration’s requests is not entirely clear. In the wake of heated Senate confirmation hearings for Trump’s latest Supreme Court Kavanaugh, the justices have steered clear of some cases on volatile social issues involving abortion and rights for gay and transgender people.
It has not been a sure bet for the administration at the Supreme Court, however. The justices, for example, have rebuffed administration requests to stop trials in lower courts over the census question and a lawsuit concerning climate change.
George Conway annihilates Trump’s claim that Twitter censors him
On Wednesday, following Trump's virtually incomprehensible rant on Fox Business about how Twitter is secretly stifling his content, conservative lawyer George Conway posted a scathing rebuke of his behavior:
George Conway, the husband of Trump's former campaign manager and counselor Kellyanne Conway, has been a frequent and vocal critic of the president's behavior.
Republicans have increasingly scapegoated an imagined political conspiracy of social media companies for every problem that they have online, claiming that there is a plot to censor or "shadow ban" conservative content.
This is how Florida Republicans plan to hand the election to Trump in 2020
In 2018, voters in Florida passed Amendment 4, restoring voting rights to ex-felons. The measure passed 65 to 35 percent.
Now, Florida Governor and major Trump ally Ron DeSantis is expected to blunt the impact of the measure by approving a bill that would require ex-felons to have paid off all fees connected to their sentence before voting. That means Donald Trump might get a major boost in 2020, reports the Daily Beast.
SB 7066 requires ex-felons to pay off all financial obligations from their sentencing or get them excused by a judge.
Dear NeverTrumpers: Please quit lecturing actual Democrats about how to win
As I write this, we are just hours away from the first debate of the presidential primary season. It's hard to believe that four years have passed since the last round of primary debates. It feels like 40. But here we are, getting ready to embark on yet another presidential campaign featuring Donald Trump. Everyone on the planet has advice for the Democratic candidates about what they need to do to beat him. It may be the most annoying conversation in all of politics, and that's saying something.
The pundits are all dully blathering on about "lanes" again, extending the horse race metaphor to ridiculous lengths, as they did in the GOP primaries in 2016. So far they've declared the lanes to be "establishment," "insurgent," "youth," "black vote" and "working class." And yes, they are meaningless, since the person who wins the nomination will have to take up big parts of all these "lanes" and more. But it makes it easy for pundits and analysts to drone on endlessly about polling, despite the fact that there is very little chance this campaign will end up going the way they predict.