2 Biden court losses just over a month into his presidency show Trump’s lasting power on the judiciary

Judge gavel courtroom
  • Trump-appointed federal judges have blocked two of the Biden administration’s early efforts.
  • After a deportation moratorium was blocked in Texas, a different Texas judge blocked the CDC’s eviction ban.
  • With over 230 federal judges appointed by Trump, the court battles will likely endure.
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Days after a federal judge indefinitely blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a 100-day deportation freeze, another federal judge in Texas struck down the CDC’s eviction moratorium.

These two losses – from judges appointed by former President Donald Trump – show his lasting legacy on the judiciary and how that could impact the Biden administration.

During Trump’s four years in office – and with a Republican Senate majority – the former president appointed more than 230 federal judges across states, which, according to Pew Research Center, is nearly as many federal judges as Barack Obama appointed in his eight years in office.

And less than two months into Biden’s presidency, Trump’s lasting impact on the federal judiciary is becoming apparent.

In February, US District Judge Drew Tipton appointed by Trump in June 2020, granted a preliminary injunction to halt the Biden administration’s moratorium indefinitely.

The decision was also a legal win for Trump ally Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who originally filed the lawsuit against the Biden administration days after the administration issued a memo to the Department of Homeland Security.

The Biden administration has not stated whether it will immediately appeal the ruling. The Justice Department did not seek a stay on Tipton’s January temporary restraining order on the moratorium.

On February 26, Campbell Barker, a Trump-appointed federal district judge in the Eastern District of Texas, ruled that the federal government did not have the authority to place a national ban on evictions during the pandemic.

Barker’s 21-page summary judgment called the moratorium – which was first imposed by the CDC under the Trump administration in September – unconstitutional and said it, “criminalizes the use of state legal proceedings to vindicate property rights.”

In early February, Biden’s administration had extended the moratorium through the end of March.

Barker’s judgment followed a lawsuit filed in October by a group of Texas landlords, who claimed that they were owed thousands in late rent and that the moratorium violated property rights.

In his decision, Barker claimed that the government’s lawyers could not draw connections to where federal officials had instituted bans on evictions, including during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic.

“The federal government has not claimed such a power at any point during our Nation’s history until last year,” Barker wrote.”Although the COVID-19 pandemic persists, so does the Constitution,” Barker added.

A new report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau highlighted that 11 million American families are at risk of eviction or foreclosure due to financial strain from the coronavirus pandemic.

Barker did not issue an injunction in the case, meaning that renters are still offered protection by the CDC’s eviction ban for now, but Barker said that he could seek an injunction should the federal government allow the eviction ban to stay in place.

While Trump had an outsized impact on federal judges through his appointments, it is not uncommon for a new administration to face roadblocks from the judiciary – a co-equal branch of government. Throughout his presidency, many of Trump’s signature policy goals were challenged and overturned by judges appointed by his predecessors.