Texas Federal Court Rejects Proposal to Ban ‘Judge Shopping’

Texas Federal Court Rejects Proposal to Ban ‘Judge Shopping’

By Nate Raymond

(Reuters) – A Texas federal court, which has become a favored destination for conservatives filing lawsuits to block President Joe Biden’s agenda, has decided not to follow a policy adopted by the judiciary’s highest decision-making body that aims to restrict the practice of “choice of judges”.

Northern District of Texas Chief Judge David Godbey announced the decision in a letter Friday to Democratic U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who urged him to implement a new policy aimed at ensuring that cases challenging federal or state laws be assigned randomly. judges.

The policy announced by the American Judicial Conference on March 12 would require that, in a lawsuit challenging federal or state laws, a judge be randomly assigned to a federal district rather than remaining in the specific, smaller division, or in the courthouse, where the case was originally filed.

If implemented, the policy would disrupt a tactic used by conservative litigants of filing cases in small divisions of Texas’ four federal districts where one or two judges were appointed by Republican presidents and often ruled in their favor on issues such as abortion, immigration and gun control. .

Following backlash from Senate Republicans and some conservative judges, judicial policymakers later clarified that the policy was discretionary, leaving it up to each district court to decide how to implement it.

In his letter, Godbey, appointed by former Republican President George W. Bush, said judges in his district met Wednesday. “The consensus was to make no changes to our case assignment process at this time,” he said.

His letter was first reported by Law360. Spokespeople for Schumer did not respond to a request for comment Saturday.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas has 11 active judges and is divided into seven divisions. Most judges are in Dallas, but some smaller divisions like Amarillo, Fort Worth and Lubbock have only one or two active judges.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday heard arguments in a case stemming from one of those smaller courts, in which U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk — appointed by former Republican President Donald Trump in the division to judge sole of Amarillo – suspended approval of the abortion pill. mifepristone.

The Supreme Court allowed the pill to remain on the market while it considers the appeal. The justices signaled during Tuesday’s arguments that they were unlikely to uphold the restrictions.

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