Just how much is Trump’s judiciary sabotaging the Biden presidency?

“No one has ever elected Matthew Kacsmaryk to anything.

Kacsmaryk, whom former President Donald Trump appointed to the federal bench in 2019, was previously a lawyer for a Christian right law firm. He once claimed being transgender is a “mental disorder” and that gay people are “disordered.” He’s also one of the most powerful immigration officials in the country, having successfully wrested control of much of America’s border policy away from the man Americans elected president in 2020.

With the Supreme Court’s blessing, Kacsmaryk ordered President Joe Biden’s administration to reinstate Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which requires many asylum seekers who arrive at the United States’ southern border to stay in Mexico while they await a hearing.

Even if you ignore the moral implications of reinstating such a policy, there are good reasons to doubt that the policy is a good use of America’s limited border security resources. And Kacsmaryk’s decision is also unlawful for numerous reasons.

One of the most important reasons is that it upends the balance of power between the president and unelected judges. Reinstating the Remain in Mexico program requires the Mexican government’s cooperation — which means that Kacsmaryk ordered the United States to change its diplomatic stance toward Mexico. And that’s despite decades of warnings from the Supreme Court that judges should be “particularly wary of impinging on the discretion of the Legislative and Executive Branches in managing foreign affairs.”

Kacsmaryk’s decision, and the Supreme Court’s decision to stand with Kacsmaryk against President Joe Biden, is one of the most dramatic examples of the Republican-controlled federal judiciary’s many conflicts with America’s Democratic president. But it’s hardly an isolated incident.

In just four years as president, Trump remade the federal judiciary — all with a big assist from a Senate Republican leader willing to break any norm in order to ensure GOP control of the courts. Trump appointed a third of the Supreme Court and nearly a third of all active appeals court judges. He also peppered federal trial courts with conservative activists like Kacsmaryk, who are eager to overturn some of the most fundamental assumptions of US law.

Nearly one year into Biden’s time in office, the result hasn’t exactly been a bloodbath for his policies — in contrast to the seemingly never-ending array of lawsuits seeking to repeal Obamacare, no federal judge has yet tried to repeal Biden’s major legislative accomplishments such as the American Rescue Plan or the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. But in two areas in particular, immigration and public health, the courts have been unusually aggressive.”

“if the Supreme Court wanted lower-court judges to stop ignoring precedents that permit President Biden to govern, it could intervene to stop them from doing so. Instead, it has rewarded many of the most aggressive conservative innovators within the judiciary.”

Here Is Why the 6th Circuit Reinstated OSHA’s Vaccine Mandate—and Why One Judge Disagreed

“OSHA’s ETS, which it published on November 5, demands that companies with 100 or more employees require them to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or wear face masks and undergo weekly virus testing. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit stayed the ETS on November 6, citing “grave statutory and constitutional issues.” The 5th Circuit extended that stay a week later, when it said the mandate is “fatally flawed” because it “grossly exceeds OSHA’s statutory authority.”

After that ruling, the many lawsuits challenging the mandate were consolidated and assigned by lottery to the 6th Circuit, which the Biden administration asked to lift the 5th Circuit’s stay. In doing so, the 6th Circuit majority criticized the other appeals court for reaching hasty conclusions unsupported by precedent and for failing to properly consider the evidence that OSHA presented in favor of its mandate.

An emergency standard allows OSHA to circumvent the usual rule making process by publishing regulations that take effect immediately. But to avoid the public notice, comment, and hearing requirements that ordinarily apply to OSHA rules, the agency has to identify a “grave danger” to employees “from exposure to substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or from new hazards.” It also has to show the emergency standard is “necessary to protect employees from such danger.”

In her 6th Circuit majority opinion, Stranch has little trouble concluding that COVID-19 qualifies as an “agent” that is “physically harmful.” Citing the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, she says “an ‘agent’ is ‘a chemically, physically, or biologically active principle,'” while “a virus is defined, in part, as ‘any [of a] large group of submicroscopic infectious agents.'””

“Larsen opens her dissent by chiding Stranch for misrepresenting reality. “The majority opinion describes the emergency rule at issue here as permitting employers ‘to determine for themselves how best to minimize the risk of contracting COVID-19 in their workplaces,'” she writes. “With respect, that was the state of federal law before the rule, not after.”

Larsen also suggests that Stranch has pulled a bait and switch. “The majority opinion initially agrees…that an emergency standard must be more than ‘reasonably necessary’; it must be ‘essential,'” she writes. “But then that word, and the concept, disappear from the analysis. What starts as a demand for an ‘essential’ solution quickly turns into acceptance of any ‘effective’ or ‘meaningful’ remedy; and later, acquiescence to a solution with a mere ‘reasonable’ ‘relationship’ to the problem. The majority opinion never explains why ‘necessary’ undergoes such a metamorphosis.”

As Larsen sees it, OSHA “has not made the appropriate finding of necessity.” She notes that “OSHA’s mandate applies, in undifferentiated fashion, to a vast swath of Americans: 84 million workers, 26 million unvaccinated, with varying levels of exposure and risk.” OSHA has the burden of explaining “why the rule should apply to a large and diverse class,” she says, but the agency “does not do so.””

“In some respects, Larsen thinks, OSHA’s judgments are inconsistent with the numbers it cites. “OSHA has determined that no vaccinated worker is in ‘grave danger,’ whereas all unvaccinated workers are,” Larsen writes. “But the government’s own data reveal that the death rate for unvaccinated people between the ages of 18 and 29 is roughly equivalent to that of vaccinated persons between 50 and 64. So an unvaccinated 18-year-old bears the same risk as a vaccinated 50-year-old. And yet, the 18-year-old is in grave danger, while the 50-year-old is not. One of these conclusions must be wrong; either way is a problem for OSHA’s rule.””

The Federalist Society’s newest enemy: Corporate America

“In a market society, economists Milton and Rose Friedman wrote in 1979, “the consumer is protected from being exploited by one seller by the existence of another seller from whom he can buy and who is eager to sell to him.” In theory, if one company adopts “woke” branding that offends its customers, then the market will deliver those customers into the waiting arms of a competitor.

Yet, rather than waiting for the hand of the market to deliver an invisible spanking to “woke” corporations, speaker after speaker at the Federalist Society’s convention called for a central planner to intervene. ”

A Trump judge ordered Biden to reinstate one of Trump’s cruelest immigration policies

“Almost immediately after President Joe Biden took office, his administration started to roll back his predecessor Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which required many asylum seekers who arrive at the United States’ southern border to stay in Mexico while they await a hearing on their asylum claim.”

” however, a Trump-appointed judge to a federal court in Texas effectively ordered the federal government to reinstate this Trump-era policy — which is officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) — permanently. Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s opinion in Texas v. Biden makes the implausible argument that a federal immigration law enacted by Congress in 1996 makes the Remain in Mexico policy mandatory, unless the federal government detains every asylum seeker who is not sent back to Mexico.

Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy was not implemented until early 2019. So the upshot of Kacsmaryk’s opinion is that the federal government was in violation of this 1996 statute for half of the Clinton administration, the entire George W. Bush administration, the entire Obama administration, and most of the Trump administration.

In reality, that 1996 federal law is part of a web of statutes and constitutional doctrines giving immigration officials multiple options when an asylum seeker arrives at the US-Mexico border. One provision of federal immigration law provides that most of these asylum seekers “shall be detained” while they await a hearing.”

“Kacsmaryk’s decision, moreover, is expected to be appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the most conservative courts in the country — and then potentially to a Supreme Court where Republican appointees have a 6-3 supermajority.

So, while Kacsmaryk’s opinion is wrong on the law, there is no guarantee that it will be reversed by a higher court.”

“Kacsmaryk is one of many Trump appointees to the federal bench who appears to have been chosen largely due to his unusually conservative political views. Prior to becoming a judge, Kacsmaryk was deputy general counsel for the First Liberty Institute, a firm that largely litigates on behalf of causes of the religious right. In his past writings, he labeled being transgender a “mental disorder” and claimed that gay people are “disordered.”
As recently as 2015, Kacsmaryk published an article denouncing a “Sexual Revolution” that “sought public affirmation of the lie that the human person is an autonomous blob of Silly Putty unconstrained by nature or biology, and that marriage, sexuality, gender identity, and even the unborn child must yield to the erotic desires of liberated adults.”

He’s also the third conservative federal judge in Texas to strike down an immigration policy supported by the Biden administration.”

“The Supreme Court’s decisions are supposed to give federal officials a great deal of discretion to shape immigration policy — and to afford mercy to individual immigrants. As the Court explained in Arizona v. United States (2012) “a principal feature of the removal system is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials.”

But judges like Kacsmaryk, Tipton, and Hanen appear eager to strip the Biden administration of that discretion. With a 6-3 conservative Supreme Court overseeing the judiciary, these judges may very well get away with it.”

How Biden can claw back Trump’s influence on the courts

“It appears likely, moreover, that the GOP-controlled judiciary will be a thorn in Biden’s side. Trump-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch, for example, is already laying the groundwork to strip federal agencies of much of their power to regulate after Biden takes office, and Gorsuch almost certainly has the five votes he needs to make this happen.

The Republican Party dominates the federal judiciary in no small part due to six years of work by outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. When Justice Antonin Scalia died nearly a year before President Barack Obama left office, McConnell announced almost immediately that Obama’s Supreme Court nominee would get the cold shoulder from a Republican Senate. When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died shortly before the 2020 election, McConnell ensured that her conservative replacement, Amy Coney Barrett, would be confirmed just days before the nation voted to cast Trump out of office.

During the final two years of Obama’s presidency — the only two years of his presidency that Republicans controlled the Senate — McConnell imposed a near-total blockade on new appointments to the federal courts of appeals (often referred to as “circuit” judges). The result was that now-outgoing President Donald Trump got to fill nearly all of the judicial vacancies that came open during his presidency, plus nearly all of the appellate court seats Obama should have filled in his final two years.

Although Obama served for twice as long as Trump, there are currently 53 active circuit judges appointed by Trump and only 50 appointed by Obama. (Obama’s judicial confirmations also got off to a fairly slow start, though they picked up considerably once the Senate changed its rules in 2013 to make it easier to confirm judges.)”