Washington, D.C. – The House Judiciary Committee today approved the Injunctive Authority Clarification Act of 2018 (H.R.6730) by a vote of 14-6. This legislation, sponsored by Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), restores the traditional understanding that a federal court’s injunctive power extends only to the protection of the parties before it.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) applauded today’s approval of the Injunctive Authority Clarification Act with the following statement:
Chairman Goodlatte: “The Constitution gives courts the authority to decide cases for the parties before them, not to act as super-legislators for everyone across the country based on a single case. It simply cannot be the law that opponents of government action can seek a preliminary injunction and lose in 93 of the 94 judicial districts, win one injunction in the 94th, and through that injunction obtain a stay of government action nationwide despite it being upheld everywhere else. A bipartisan group of some of America’s leading professors of remedies, federal courts, and administrative law agree that Congress must enact a limit on national injunctions.
“I am pleased that the House Judiciary Committee today approved the Injunctive Authority Clarification Act of 2018 to restore the proper balance of power between the branches of government and I look forward to a vote by the full House of Representatives soon.”
Background: For the first 170 years of the Republic, there were no national injunctions precisely because courts recognized that they would go beyond the “judicial power.” Since then, there has been a gradual evolution that allowed the practice to avoid careful constitutional scrutiny, until now.
In June 2018, after examining the basis for national injunctions, Justice Thomas’s concurrence in Trump v. Hawaii concluded that in “sum, universal injunctions are legally and historically dubious. If federal courts continue to issue them, this Court is dutybound to adjudicate their authority to do so.”
National injunctions create what the Justice Department terms “an absurd situation in which a plaintiff only needs to win once to stop a national law or policy—but the government needs to win every time to carry out its policies. That makes governing all but impossible.” This creates a “shop till the statute drops” problem.
This past November, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing entitled, “The Role and Impact of Nationwide Injunctions by District Courts.”