Posted on August 19, 2019

Block of Trump Asylum Rule Holds, but Only in California & Arizona

Matthew Renda, Courthouse News, August 16, 2019

The Ninth Circuit thwarted the Trump administration Friday by denying its request to stay a lower court’s block of a rule making all asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border ineligible for refugee status unless they applied for and were denied protection in a country they passed along the way.

However, the Ninth Circuit’s denial only applies to the border states within its jurisdiction – California and Arizona.

“The district court clearly erred by failing to consider whether nationwide relief is necessary to remedy plaintiffs’ alleged harms,” U.S. Circuit Judges Michael Bennett and Milan Smith held. “And, based on the limited record before us, we do not believe a nationwide injunction is justified.”

Smith and Bennett were both appointed by Republican presidents: Smith by George W. Bush, Bennett by Donald Trump.

U.S. Circuit Judge A. Wallace Tashima, a Jimmy Carter appointee, wrote a blistering dissent stating the majority overstepped its authority by probing for errors in the lower court’s decision for a nationwide block of the rule.


For its part, the majority justified its decision by saying that allowing cases in other circuits to move forward fosters “the development of the law and the percolation of legal issues in the lower courts.”

The case bodes ill for those who believe the courts are apolitical.