The Eleventh Circuit Reins in the National Injunction
Georgia v. President of the United States (August 26) is a major new case about national injunctions. Seven states brought a challenge to the vaccine mandate for federal contractors, and a trade association intervened (Associated Builders and Contractors). On the merits, the question was whether the contractor mandate went beyond the president’s powers under the Procurement Act. The district court said the challengers were likely to succeed on the merits and issued a national injunction blocking enforcement of the mandate. The court of appeals agreed that the challengers were likely to succeed on the merits, and it upheld the injunction as it related to the parties, but the court vacated the injunction as to non-parties. The Eleventh Circuit decision is here.
The opinion of the court is by Judge Grant. (Whether all parts of the opinion should be designated “the opinion of the court” is less clear, but there’s no doubt that Part V, on the scope of the injunction, expresses the view of the panel. That part of the opinion was joined by Judge Anderson, who otherwise dissented, and the short concurrence in the result by Judge Edmondson expressly agrees as to the scope.)
The analysis in Judge Grant’s opinion is incisive and thorough (and very well written). It moves from Article III to the traditional scope of equitable powers to circuit precedent, and back to the distributed decisionmaking that is characteristic of the federal courts. Most of these points will not surprise those who have been following the debate about national injunctions, but this is an excellent restatement of all the major concerns. There are also some new or distinctive points to highlight:
First, this opinion expressly allows national injunctions in “appropriate” but “rare” cases. This expr
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