Dangerous Collusion Between Liberal Attorneys General and Federal Judges

BY BOB BARR

The latest liberal outrage changes as often as the daily special at a diner. One day it is Cecil the Lion and “big game” hunting; the next day deciding which bathroom people had a legal right to use. This week, it is the specter of a 3D-printed gun that has the Left running around with its collective hair afire, proclaiming the end to civilization.   

While the manufacture of components necessary for a functioning firearm without a stamp from the government has been possible since, well, 12thCentury China, the fact that modern technology actually has been applied to that process by an individual without asking “mother, may I” from Uncle Sam, has pushed the Left to pull out all stops in an effort to shut down such freedom.  

Recently, the Left has discovered a new — and willing — ally in its constant battle against anything remotely akin to a firearm. The Left’s latest “best friends forever” are kindred spirits on the federal judiciary. This forum increasingly has become the Left’s default position, as its efforts to effect political change have been repeatedly stymied by a Republican Congress and a President opposed to their agenda. 

Just as President Obama figured out that he could sidestep Republicans in Congress, especially on Second Amendment issues, by utilizing regulatory powers lodged in federal regulatory agencies, liberal state attorneys general and other Democrat officials have seized on a similar strategy, but using liberal judges in friendly federal district courts. Now, if President Trump does something in Washington, D.C. that liberals don’t like, their attorneys general in California, Oregon, Connecticut and New York can throw the brakes on national policy using court injunctions. 

Historically, injunctions are not a remedy favored by courts. In our system of jurisprudence, largely inherited from the British, individuals were allowed to take action free from a court stopping them, unless there was a real and imminent threat of serious harm without a judge stepping in. At least that’s the way it has been until now.     

As we saw last year when President Trump issued his executive order slowing travel into the United States from certain countries known to harbor terrorists, the Left was able to rush into select federal district courts, wail about vague, but awful, harm that would affect their “constituents,” and secure injunctions from like-minded federal judges based on such will-‘o-the-wisp scenarios. Many of those same left-leaning attorneys general rushed into federal courtrooms last week with dire warnings that 3D-printed guns would imminently flood the streets of their states, unless the courts stepped in and enjoined individuals from publishing the computer code necessary to instruct a printer to print one of these largely unusable guns.  Sure enough, in a Pavlovian response, judges granted the injunction without any meaningful showing of harm.

As a former federal prosecutor, the behavior by both attorneys general who should know better, and federal judges who even more so should be immune to this type of political gamesmanship, is deeply disturbing from a procedural standpoint; not only by issuing injunctions on such a flimsy rationale of immediate harm, but doing so with nationwide reach.  In thus abusing our courts, judges overstep district courts’ traditional jurisdiction by huge bounds. The idea of a single,liberal attorney general and one friendly judge colluding to freeze the policies of an individual citizen harming no one, or even more disturbing, stopping the President of the United States from implementing policies he is lawfully permitted to undertake, based on pure speculative notions of harm, is absurd; even more, it is dangerous to the proper functioning of our judicial system.

It is for these reasons and more that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, rightfully concerned with the abuse of national injunctions, offered a scathing indictment of their use and impact in the Court’s 2017 opinion in Trump v. Hawaii. “I am skeptical that district courts have the authority to enter universal injunctions,” Thomas opined; adding their increased use skips the practical tradition of letting legal questions develop through the court process while also “encouraging forum shopping, and making every case a national emergency for the courts and for the Executive Branch.”

“If their popularity continues, this Court must address their legality,” Thomas concluded.  

It is high time the Supreme Court heed Thomas’ warning, and stop what is becoming a recurring disease of collusion between liberal attorneys general and lifetime-tenured federal judges; many of who are eager to use their coveted perches to enact a political agenda which our Founding Fathers wisely denied them in crafting our Constitution as they did.


Self-Educated American Contributing Editor, Bob Barr, represented Georgia’s 7th district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 -2003 and as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia from 1986-1990.