Democrat offers bill to stop ‘judge shopping’

Legislation is being introduced in response to the abortion ruling by a U.S. District Court judge in Texas.
Published: May. 15, 2023 at 3:07 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - A Democratic senator has introduced a bill to stop so-called “judge shopping” in the federal courts. The move is in response to a right-wing activist group making sure a case about an abortion pill was heard in front of a federal judge in Texas with a reputation of opposing abortion.

‘Judge shopping’ is something activists have done for years, for legal questions that have nationwide implications. The idea is that a campaigner is fighting for an issue and desiring a specific outcome. So instead of filing their suit at the nearest federal courthouse, they handpick a district with a federal judge that is more likely to rule in their favor.

“The more we shine a light on the judge shopping issue, the better it will be,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii).

Senator Hirono believes judge shopping is what happened in Texas when a far-right anti-abortion group tried get the abortion drug, mifepristone, banned. U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who has spoken out against abortion, heard the case and suspended the drug’s FDA approval.

Hirono said, “Claims and losses should be decided on the basis of a judge being fair and objective and not because this person was handpicked to produce a particular kind of result.”

Senator Hirono’s bill, the “Stop Judge Shopping Act,” would give exclusive jurisdiction over cases with national implications to the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. The Heritage Foundation’s GianCarlo Canaparo says the senator is using the bill to do the very thing she claims to be fighting against.

“It is correct that no single judge should have the ability to enjoin federal policy on a nationwide basis. The problem with Mazie Hirono’s bill, however, is that it doesn’t solve the problem,” said GianCarlo Canaparo, a Senior Legal Fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies

Canaparo said the bill would also overload the court, force people to fly to D.C. to sue the government, and delay justice. And he thinks the real issue is nationwide injunctions, or court-ordered restraints, which he says are not lawful.

“The problem comes when one judge is able to enjoin on a nationwide basis some federal policy, rather than allowing these issues to percolate through many district courts and many courts higher than that,” Canaparo said.

Senator Hirono’s bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee but has yet to have a hearing.