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'Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears' Highlights April Rulings

James Earle Fraser's statue The Contemplation of Justice, which sits on the west side of the United States Supreme Court building, on the north side of the main entrance stairs.
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Washington, D.C. - As People For the American Way continues its work to promote qualified Biden-Harris executive branch and judicial nominees, especially women of color as reflected in our #HerFightOurFight campaign, as well as its work on the ongoing problems of far-right extremism, police misconduct, and racial discrimination, we have continued our research and reporting on the troubling votes and decisions by Trump appellate judges and justices. Our focus is on the broad, systemic impact of such rulings and opinions, beyond their effect on individual litigants. Linked below are posts concerning 17 cases from PFAW’s “Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears” blog series for April 2021.

Several trends emerge from the April cases. These include six decisions where Trump justices or judges cast disturbing votes concerning health care, including reproductive rights as well as COVID-19, and three cases concerning police misconduct and accountability. Specifically:

  • Trump judges on the Sixth Circuit cast deciding votes in three cases that effectively reversed district court decisions against restrictive Ohio and Tennessee abortion laws and put those damaging laws back into place, at least pending completion of ongoing appeals.
  • With respect to COVID-19, Trump justices cast deciding votes to grant a special exemption for religious purposes to California pandemic-related health measures, while a Trump appellate judge cast the deciding vote to dismiss a prisoner’s case that officials were deliberately indifferent to his elevated COVID-19 risk. Two Trump judges argued in dissent that an important ACA implementation rule is invalid.
  • With respect to police misconduct, one Trump judge upheld qualified immunity for an officer who had seized someone’s phone and punished him for taking pictures of police activity, endangering the important practice of ordinary people recording public actions by police that was so important in the George Floyd murder trial. In addition, a Trump judge was the deciding vote to excuse improper interrogation of a person without giving him required Miranda warnings after punching and handcuffing him, while another Trump judge argued in dissent that police should get qualified immunity for using coercive tactics to get a false confession from a 13 year-old.

All these April cases and more, including cases concerning gun safety and employment discrimination, underline the importance of efforts to counteract harmful decisions by Trump judges by confirming fair-minded constitutionalists with a demonstrated commitment to civil and human rights as federal judges, particularly including the women of color already nominated by President Biden, as discussed in PFAW’s #Her Fight, Our Fight campaign. These April cases have all been entered in our Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears tool, which you can search by judge and by issue.

Trump justices again cast deciding votes to grant dangerous special exemption to religion from COVID health rules

Trump judges cast deciding votes to uphold restrictive state abortion law

Trump judges try to invalidate important aca implementation rule by reviving discredited nondelegation doctrine

Trump judges rule that federal election commission can prevent court review of its failure to enforce election laws

Trump judge rules that grocery chain can legally discriminate against visually impaired people by providing them with inferior services

Trump judges cast deciding votes to strike down important parts of Indian child welfare law

Trump judges cast key votes to take extraordinarily disfavored step concerning appeal of ruling striking down restrictive abortion law

Trump justices cast deciding votes to gut precedent and approve sentencing 15-year-old to life imprisonment without possible parole

Trump judge casts deciding vote to dismiss prisoner's complaint that officials are deliberately indifferent to COVID-19 risk

Trump sixth circuit judges cast deciding votes to keep restrictive Tennessee abortion law in effect

Trump judge upholds qualified immunity for police officer charged with improperly seizing person's phone and punishing him for taking pictures of police conduct

Trump judge tries to prevent Black police officer from pursuing claim that he was improperly retaliated against

Trump judges try to revive attack by Trump administration on state law that helps former workers at closed nuclear facility

Trump judge overturns injunction restricting dangerous 3D gun blueprints

Trump judge casts deciding vote to excuse improper police interrogation of a person without miranda warnings after they punched and handcuffed him

Trump judge tries to grant immunity to police for coercing a false confession from thirteen year old

Trump judge keeps secret records concerning privacy threats posed by drone use

About People For the American Way

People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and build a democratic society that implements the ideals of freedom, equality, opportunity and justice for all. We encourage civic participation, defend fundamental rights, and fight to dismantle systemic barriers to equitable opportunityLearn more: