I always carry a copy of the U.S. Constitution in my suit jacket pocket. It is a reminder of the gift our founding fathers gave us of a country in which we could govern ourselves in freedom, and enjoy the protection of our God-given rights.
It’s also a reminder that this gift has to be defended in every generation.
The Democrat party, determined to hobble President Trump at every opportunity and to redefine our Constitution, has a variety of harmful tactics to use.
One of them is the "national" or "universal injunction."
In a nutshell, this is another example of judges exceeding their authority.
According to the Constitution, courts are supposed to judge cases and controversies between the parties who come to the court with a dispute. In a universal, or "absent party" injunction, a judge decides that, for instance, a policy enacted by a presidential administration, will not only be halted in regard to the aggrieved party in the courtroom, but will be halted for any and every party from coast to coast. In other words, an unelected judge in one district stops a policy enacted by the duly elected president of the whole country.
Unlike the women in the pink hats or the Democrats’ failed efforts to remove Trump from office or prove he colluded with the Russians, these universal injunctions are happening almost outside our scrutiny.
Lawyers and lawmakers, of course, are aware of the problem, and last week it was the topic of a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In our country’s first 100 years, not a single universal injunction was issued by a federal court. Judges didn’t begin relying on injunctions until the tumultuous 1960s.
During the eight years that President George W. Bush was in office, his actions were blocked by universal injunctions a total of 12 times.
During the eight years of President Obama, such injunctions were used 19 time.
But in just three years of the Trump administration, non-elected judges at the lowest rung of the federal judiciary have issued nationwide injunctions against President Trump 55 times.
One-third of these orders have come from district courts in California, while two-thirds of the states have not issued any.
The injunctions issued against Trump are proof, according to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that "a handful of judges are acting effectively as part of the resistance movement."
For us in the anti-abortion movement, this is of particular concern, as those who advance the abortion agenda in our country have done so, starting with Roe vs. Wade 410 U.S. 113 (1973) through the activism of the courts rather than the careful deliberation of elected legislators.
A case recently decided by an en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals helps to illustrate the senator’s point.
In March 2019, the federal Department of Health and Human Services issued the Protect Life Rule, which prohibits any program receiving Title X funding from referring patients for abortion. Those programs that do provide abortion would also have to be physically separated from the Title X part of the operation.
This rule was aimed directly at the nation’s biggest abortion seller, Planned Parenthood, which received about $60 million annually from the federal program.
Legal challenges to the rule were filed where judges would be most likely to rule in favor of abortionists. This so-called "forum shopping" succeeded, and a federal district judge in Washington state in April issued a universal injunction, meaning the rule could not be enforced anywhere. A similar ruling followed in Oregon.
The next step in the familiar dance was for HHS to appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. This once liberal bastion of jurisprudence now has almost as many Republican-appointed judges — 13 — as its 16 Democratic appointees, so a verdict favorable to abortion providers was far from assured.
And indeed, in June 2019, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit sided with HHS and reinstated the rule. Then last week, in a decision almost unimaginable before Trump began reshaping the federal courts, a panel of 11 judges decided, by a vote of 7-4, that the Protect Life Rule is constitutional.
This case illustrates the outsized power of federal district judges. Should one unelected individual, appointed for life, have the power to block laws passed by Congress and rules issued from the executive branch?
The answer is no.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., convened the Feb. 25 hearing to consider what, if anything, can or should be done to curtail the federal judiciary’s over-use of the universal injunction.
Among the senators and the attorneys who testified, no consensus emerged at the hearing. Some thought the universal injunctions were appropriate and necessary; others disagreed. Some said Congress should concoct a remedy; others said it should be up to the Supreme Court.
What the hearing underscored for me, again, is that elections matter. The presidential race is paramount, but the Senate races matter, too.
It’s important for citizens to begin communicating with their U.S. senators about this issue. Staffers will likely be impressed anyone outside of the legal profession is even paying attention to universal injunctions. Though these injunctions can help both sides of any ideological dispute, the resolution of this matter is an important one.
The Constitution does not give district court judges power to issue universal injunctions. Getting this issue clarified is necessary to restoring and preserving the balance of power between the three branches of our government.
Fr. Frank Pavone is one of the most prominent pro-life leaders in the world. He became a Catholic priest in 1988 under Cardinal John O’Connor in New York. In 1993 he became National Director of Priests for Life. He is also the President of the National Pro-life Religious Council, and the National Pastoral Director of the Silent No More Campaign and of Rachel’s Vineyard, the world’s largest ministry of healing after abortion. He travels to about four states every week, preaching and teaching against abortion. He broadcasts regularly on television, radio, and internet. He was asked by Mother Teresa to speak in India on abortion, and was asked by then-candidate Donald Trump to serve on his Pro-life and Catholic advisory councils. He has served at the Vatican as an official of the Pontifical Council for the Family, which coordinates the pro-life activities of the Catholic Church. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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