The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Thursday had some words of caution for any district judge considering issuing a nationwide injunction.
In an appeal of a nationwide injunction barring Trump administration changes to rules affecting contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act, a three-judge panel of the court included a fairly extensive analysis of what it termed the “several concerns associated with overbroad injunctions, particularly nationwide ones.”
The court narrowed a preliminary injunction handed down late last year by U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr. in Oakland to apply only in California, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and New York, states that were the plaintiffs in the underlying lawsuit.
“District judges must require a showing of nationwide impact or sufficient similarity to the plaintiff states to foreclose litigation in other districts, from Alaska to Puerto Rico to Maine to Guam,” wrote Judge J. Clifford Wallace.
The U.S. Supreme Court, Wallace noted, has previously said that such injunctions can be detrimental to the development of the law because they can deprive appellate courts of multiple perspectives when coming to a novel legal issue. Wallace also wrote that nationwide injunctions can keep nonparties who fail to intervene in a first-moving action from participating in litigation that directly effects them.
“These consequences are magnified where, as here, the district court stays any effort to prepare the case for trial pending the appeal of a nationwide preliminary injunction,” he wrote.
Wallace was joined in his opinion by Ninth Circuit Judges Andrew Kleinfeld and Susan Graber. Thursday’s decision remanded the case to Gilliam for further proceedings.
Read the opinion: