People For the American Way

‘Our Courts, Our Fight’ Highlights October Rulings


Contact: Press Department at People For the American Way

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As the Supreme Court begins work on its potentially fateful 2021-22 term, and as part of our efforts to promote qualified Biden-Harris judicial nominees, especially women of color as reflected in our #HerFightOurFight campaign, People For the American Way has continued our research and reporting on the troubling votes and decisions by Trump appellate judges and justices, as well as rulings by Trump district judges that improperly interfere with Biden Administration and Congressional action. Our focus is on the broad, systemic impact of such rulings and opinions, and on how these decisions show the need for prompt confirmation of Biden judicial nominees. Linked below are 10 posts concerning cases from PFAW’s “Our Courts Our Fight” blog series for October 2021.

Several important trends emerge from the October cases. These include 1) two rulings that severely harmed immigrants and sought to perpetuate Trump Administration immigration-related practices; 2) two cases rejecting specific challenges to the administration of the death penalty; and 3) two cases where Trump judges prevented people from suing government officials who they contended had helped cause serious harm, including death and blatant sex discrimination. Specifically:

  • Two Trump judges reversed a district court and granted a preliminary injunction against a California law that limited the use of private prisons to detain immigrants, a practice that had been permitted under the Trump administration despite evidence of harm. Two other Trump judges reversed a district court injunction entered during the Trump administration that had required ICE to take steps to help protect detained immigrants at high risk of hospitalization and death due to COVID-19.
  • In another troubling “shadow docket” case, two Trump justices cast deciding votes to reverse a court of appeals and authorize immediate execution of two individuals who were challenging the method of execution in Oklahoma as causing “cruel and unusual” punishment, even though the issue was set for trial in a few months; witnesses reported that when one was put to death shortly after the Court’s order, he “convulsed and vomited” as the execution began. In another capital punishment case, a Trump judge cast the deciding vote to uphold a death sentence even though the death penalty law did not exist at the time that the individual committed the acts for which he was prosecuted.
  • In two cases, Trump appellate judges reversed district courts and refused to allow people to pursue claims that they suffered significant harm due to misconduct by government officials. In one, a woman was trying to sue an official she contended was responsible for policies that helped cause her husband’s death within a month of his being taken into custody, including refusal to give him prescribed medication. In the other case, a woman who survived a sexual assault was denied the ability to sue a prosecutor who, she contended, had conspired with the man who assaulted her in order to avoid pressing charges.

All these October cases and more, including rulings on abortion and on corporate misconduct, underline the importance of efforts to counteract harmful votes by Trump judges by confirming fair-minded constitutionalists with a demonstrated commitment to civil and human rights nominated by President Biden as federal judges. These Supreme Court and appellate cases have all been entered in our Our Courts Our Fight database, which you can search by judge or by issue.

About PeopleForthe 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,opportunityand justice for all. We encourage civic participation, defend fundamental rights, and fight to dismantle systemic barriers to equitable opportunity.Learn more: