U.S. Attorney General Sessions continues criticizing lower courts’ stalling of Trump policies

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions railed against “limitless injunctions” Friday at an Eighth Circuit Judicial Conference in Des Moines.


Sarah Watson

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke at the Eighth Circuit Judicial Conference at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines Friday, August 17, 2018. Sessions spoke to a group of judges supporting President Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nomination, Brett Kavanaugh.

Sarah Watson, Politics Editor

DES MOINES — Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, reiterated on Aug. 17 their frustration with the roadblocks from courts that have halted some of the Trump administration’s policies.

“We have a government to run,” Sessions said during the 8th Judicial Conference in Des Moines. “It is not the duty of the courts to manage this government or to pass judgment on every policy action the executive branch takes.”

It’s not the first time Sessions has assailed the courts for what he has contended is a personal agenda for justices. In March, he called the rulings “unconstitutional.”

He emphasized that President Trump isn’t the only president to face stalled policy initiatives because of court decisions, saying it “goes beyond politics.”

In 2015 and 2016, conservative justices succeeded in blocking or complicating efforts by the Obama administration to expand Medicaid and shield immigrants.

Sessions specifically referenced a January 2017 executive order by Trump that restricted travel from several majority Muslim countries. A U.S. District Court judge in Honolulu imposed a nationwide injunction, halting the restrictions for 18 months until this past June.

The judge blocking the travel ban relied on a 2015 appeals court ruling that blocked Obama’s immigration program on the grounds that he had overreached in his authority. The decision upheld an injunction by a Texas judge.

Sessions, then a U.S. senator from Alabama, praised the nationwide injunction, calling it a “victory” for the American people.

The attorney general cited another example in April, when a U.S. District Court judge imposed a nationwide injunction that blocked the Trump administration’s crackdown on so-called “sanctuary cities.” The term describes a wide range of city policies in place to advise local law-enforcement authorities not to get involved in immigration matters. Later, a panel of 7th Circuit judges voted to limit the injunction to solely include Chicago.

Grassley, who did not hear Sessions’ speech, echoed his remarks when speaking with reporters on Aug. 17.

“I never want to rule out that there might not be a situation where a district judge issues a nationwide injunction,” Grassley said.

“… But I think it’s been used in too many cases where it’s not justified.”

He dismissed the notion that the increase in the number of decisions were politically motivated.

On the morning of Aug. 17, approximately 100 protesters greeted Sessions outside the Iowa Events Center. They criticized Sessions, the separation controversy involving immigrant families, and Trump.

Dancers twirl in sync to the music during a performance for protesters outside the 8th Circuit Judicial Conference at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines on Aug. 17. The conference speakers included Attorney Justice Jeff Sessions and Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. (Emily Wangen/The Daily Iowan)

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