Former President Donald Trump appointed more than 200 judges to the federal bench during his four years in office. Immigration advocates say those judges today are operating like a "shadow Trump administration" as they decide cases in which President Joe Biden has sought to undo some of his predecessor's strictest policies.
As NPR reports, lawyers for Arizona, Louisiana and Missouri went "judge shopping" when they wanted to go to court to challenge the Biden administration plan to lift Trump's Title 42 pandemic border restrictions. Title 42, under the guise of COVID-19 safety, gave the federal government the power to return migrants at the southern border to their home countries without affording them a hearing.
Instead of filing the challenge in a court in a state capital or near the border, they opted to bring their case in the Western District of Louisiana where it will be heard today in oral arguments in front of a Trump-appointed judge.
U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays is scheduled to hear oral arguments today in a courthouse in Lafayette, LA, which is more than 500 miles from the U.S./Mexico border.
Immigrant advocates say states are deliberately steering cases to federal judges appointed by Trump, where they believe they'll get a sympathetic hearing.
"To date, these states have brought no less than 17 lawsuits challenging President Biden's immigration moves," said Karen Tumlin, the founder of Justice Action Network, on a call this week with reporters. In effect, these states are using the courts to "keep a shadow Trump administration in office on immigration issues," she said.