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Biden administration policies struggle with Trump-appointed judges

Many of the Biden administration's recent legal setbacks have something important in common: judges appointed by Donald Trump.

Republican policymakers have taken a variety of steps to undermine the Biden administration's pandemic policies, but the White House's agenda has also faced judicial pushback. NBC News reported yesterday:

A federal judge on Tuesday issued a nationwide injunction against a vaccine mandate for federal contractors, ruling that President Joe Biden probably exceeded his authority by imposing the requirement. Judge R. Stan Baker, who's based in Georgia, temporarily blocked implementation of the administration after a lawsuit from numerous states and a trade group argued that letting the mandate take effect on Jan. 4 would cause "irreparable injury" to workers who could be forced out of their jobs.

The White House indicated yesterday that it still expects to prevail in this case, and the Justice Department will continue to defend the underlying policy, but the injunction was a disappointing setback.

But it turns out that this is more than just a story about the judiciary and a public-health crisis. As a political matter, it's worth noting for context that District Court Judge R. Stan Baker was chosen for the federal bench by Donald Trump.

In fact, if this dynamic seems at all familiar, it's not your imagination. It was just last week, for example, when Judge Terry A. Doughty issued a preliminary injunction halting the president's vaccine requirements for health care workers. It expanded a separate order issued by Judge Matthew T. Schelp a day earlier, which blocked Biden's policy in 10 states.

Both Doughty and Schelp were also Trump appointees.

Last week, the Biden administration was also compelled to reinstate the "Remain in Mexico" immigration policy at the insistence of Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk.

Kacsmaryk was also appointed by Trump.

This coincided with the Supreme Court hearing oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, at which time a trio of Trump-appointed justices signaled their willingness to overturn Roe v. Wade.

A few years ago, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts told the Associated Press that it's wrong to think about jurists through a partisan or presidential lens. "We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges," Roberts said in a statement. "What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them."

I have always wanted to believe this. Lately, that's been awfully difficult.