Press Release

RELEASE: The 5th Circuit’s Judicial Power Grab

Washington, D.C. — Out of all the nation’s federal appeals courts, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit has emerged as a true outlier that has allowed extremist judges to issue sweeping, politically tinged rulings that advance right-wing policy positions.

A new analysis from the Center for American Progress shows how the court—currently dominated by right-wing extremists to a degree unseen in modern history—has taken sweeping action to roll back decades of progress. In cases involving abortion rights, gun laws, voting rights, labor unions, the separation of church and state, and affirmative action, the court has used flimsy legal theories to overturn decades of precedent—all in ways that advance right-wing political priorities and ideology.

Relying on unmoored legal theories, unprecedented procedural maneuvers, and unchecked politicization, the 5th Circuit has paved the way for a judicial power grab, the analysis says. The court’s judges are effectively implementing their own policy preferences, thus stripping power away from elected officials and American voters.

While the 5th Circuit only serves three states—Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi—it has been responsible for some of the most politically charged cases being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this term, including disputes over abortion, guns, immigration, and federal power.

“Instead of taking up these cases to correct the circuit court’s unruly behavior, the Supreme Court has often affirmed or partially affirmed some of the 5th Circuit’s most egregious decisions, steadily moving American jurisprudence far to the right,” said Jeevna Sheth, senior policy analyst for Courts and Legal Policy at CAP and co-author of the analysis.

The analysis argues that Congress could prevent some of the 5th Circuit’s egregious conduct by passing legislation to limit judge-shopping abuse in the legal system and the ability of a single district judge to issue an order for nationwide injunctive relief.

Read the analysis: “The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Is Spearheading a Judicial Power Grab” by Jeevna Sheth and Devon Ombres

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at [email protected].

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