Executive Summary

  • A nationwide injunction is one that applies not only to the parties in a case, but also prevents the federal government from enforcing a law, regulation, or policy against any person, anywhere in the United States.
  • Since the important point is not the geographical scope of the injunction, but that it applies to nonparties, nationwide injunctions are more appropriately termed universal injunctions.
  • Universal injunctions are an invitation to plaintiffs to cherry-pick a friendly judge. There are currently 1,000 active and senior district court judges across the country, any one of them might issue a national injunction halting a federal policy.
  • Universal injunctions undermine confidence in a nonpartisan judiciary. When the public sees judges in New York enjoining President Trump’s policies, and judges in Texas enjoining President Obama’s policies, the reputation of the judiciary suffers.
  • Universal injunctions force judges into making rushed, low-information decisions in high-stakes cases. Ordinarily, a number of federal judges across the country will have had time to weigh in on a legal issue. But universal injunctions short-circuit this process, often forcing the Supreme Court to take a case once a single district judge has enjoined a law.
  • Universal injunctions are inconsistent with the Constitution, which limits the judicial power to “cases” and “controversies.” This constitutes the power to decide cases for parties, not everyone.
  • Thus, for the first 150 years of our country, not a single federal court issued a universal injunction purporting to bind non-parties.