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East Bay Sanctuary Covenant v. Barr

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

August 16, 2019

EAST BAY SANCTUARY COVENANT; AL OTRO LADO; INNOVATION LAW LAB; CENTRAL AMERICAN RESOURCE CENTER, Plaintiffs-Appellees,
v.
WILLIAM P. BARR, Attorney General; UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE; JAMES MCHENRY, Director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, in his official capacity; EXECUTIVE OFFICE FOR IMMIGRATION REVIEW; KEVIN K. MCALEENAN, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, in his official capacity; U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY; KENNETH T. CUCCINELLI, Acting Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, in his official capacity; JOHN P. SANDERS, Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, in his official capacity; UNITED STATES CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES; U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDERPROTECTION; MATTHEW ALBENCE, Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in his official capacity; IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT, Defendants-Appellants.

          Northern District of California, San Francisco D.C. No. 3:19-cv-04073-JST.

          Before: TASHIMA, M. SMITH, and BENNETT, Circuit Judges.

          ORDER

         Appellants seek a stay pending appeal of the district court's July 24, 2019 order preliminarily enjoining the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security's joint interim final rule, "Asylum Eligibility and Procedural Modifications" (the "Rule"), 84 Fed. Reg. 33, 829 (July 16, 2019).[1]

         The district court found that the Rule likely did not comply with the Administrative Procedure Act's (APA) notice-and-comment and 30-day grace period requirements because Appellants did not adequately support invocation of the "good cause" and "foreign affairs" exemptions under the APA. See 5 U.S.C. § 553(a)(1), (b)(1)(B), (d)(3); Buschmann v. Schweiker, 676 F.2d 352, 357 (9th Cir. 1982) (good cause exemption "should be interpreted narrowly so that the exception will not swallow the rule" (internal citations omitted)); Yassini v. Crosland, 618 F.2d 1356, 1360 n.4 (9th Cir. 1980) (foreign affairs exemption "would become distended" if applied to immigration rules generally and requires showing that ordinary public noticing would "provoke definitely undesirable international consequences"). We conclude that Appellants have not made the required "strong showing" that they are likely to succeed on the merits on this issue. Hilton v. Braunskill, 481 U.S. 770, 776 (1987).[2]

         Consequently, we deny the motion for stay pending appeal (Docket Entry No. 3) insofar as the injunction applies within the Ninth Circuit.[3]

         We grant the motion for stay pending appeal insofar as the injunction applies outside the Ninth Circuit, because the nationwide scope of the injunction is not supported by the record as it stands.[4] Cf. City and County of San Francisco v. Trump, 897 F.3d 1225, 1243-45 (9th Cir. 2018).[5]

         An injunction must be "narrowly tailored to remedy the specific harm shown." Id. at 1244 (quoting Bresgal v. Brock, 843 F.2d 1163, 1170 (9th Cir. 1987)). We have upheld nationwide injunctions where such breadth was necessary to remedy a plaintiff's harm. See, e.g., id.; California v. Azar, 911 F.3d 558, 582 (9th Cir. 2018) ("Although there is no bar against nationwide relief in federal district court . . . such broad relief must be necessary to give prevailing parties the relief to which they are entitled." (internal quotation marks and alterations omitted) (quoting Bresgal, 843 F.2d at 1170-71)). These are, however, "exceptional cases." Trump, 897 F.3d at 1244. To permit such broad injunctions as a general rule, without an articulated connection to a plaintiff's particular harm, would unnecessarily "stymie novel legal challenges and robust debate" arising in different judicial districts. Id.; see also Azar, 911 F.3d at 583 ("The Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized that nationwide injunctions have detrimental consequences to the development of law and deprive appellate courts of a wider range of perspectives.").

         Here, the district court failed to discuss whether a nationwide injunction is necessary to remedy Plaintiffs' alleged harm. Instead, in conclusory fashion, the district court stated that nationwide relief is warranted simply because district courts have the authority to impose such relief in some cases and because such relief has been applied in the immigration context. The district court clearly erred by failing to consider whether nationwide relief is necessary to remedy Plaintiffs' alleged harms. And, based on the limited record before us, we do not believe a nationwide injunction is justified.

         Our dissenting colleague believes that a nationwide injunction is appropriate simply because this case presents a rule that applies nationwide. That view, however, ignores our well-established rule that injunctive relief "must be tailored to remedy the specific harm alleged." Lamb-Weston, Inc. v. McCain Foods, Ltd., 941 F.2d 970, 974 (9th Cir. 1991) (citations omitted). Indeed, were we to adopt the dissent's view, a nationwide injunction would result any time an enjoined action has potential nationwide effects. Such an approach would turn broad injunctions into the rule rather than the exception. Under our case law, however, all injunctions-even ones involving national policies-must be "narrowly tailored to remedy the specific harm shown." Trump, 897 F.3d at 1244 (quoting Bresgal, 843 F.2d at 1170).

         We agree with our dissenting colleague that "time does not permit a full exploration of the merits of the 'nationwide' issue." But whereas he believes that such a factor supports the granting of a nationwide injunction until a merits panel can address the case, we reach precisely the opposite conclusion. "National injunctions interfere with good decisionmaking by the federal judiciary." Samuel L. Bray, Multiple Chancellors: Reforming the National Injunction, 131 Harv. L. Rev. 417, 461 (2017). They "deprive" other parties of "the right to litigate in other forums." Azar, 911 F.3d at 583. Based on the briefing and limited record before us, and absent an explanation by the district court as to why a nationwide injunction is necessary to remedy Plaintiffs' alleged harm in this case, we must grant the motion for stay pending appeal insofar as the injunction applies outside the Ninth Circuit.

         Our dissenting colleague also argues that it is "perplexing" that the government's failure to demonstrate a strong showing of likelihood of success on the merits "does not . . . require that a stay of the nationwide aspect of the injunction [] be denied." That contention misses the mark, however, by conflating the merits of the government's position with district court's authority to issue a nationwide injunction. Whether Appellants have made a strong showing of likelihood of success on the merits entitling them to a stay of the preliminary injunction is a separate question from whether the scope of the injunction is appropriate. In Azar, for example, we affirmed the preliminary injunction because, among other things, we found that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on their claim that the rules were invalid. 911 F.3d at 575-81. Despite our conclusion that the rules were likely invalid, however, we also determined that the injunction's nationwide scope was not supported by the record. Id. at 584-85. Azar illustrates that, beyond examining the merits of a party's arguments, a district court must separately analyze whether nationwide relief is "necessary to give prevailing parties the relief to which they are entitled" before issuing such an injunction. Id. at 582 (quoting Bresgal, 843 F.2d at 1170-71).

         Our approach-granting a more limited injunction-allows other litigants wishing to challenge the Rule to do so. Indeed, several already have.[6] Litigation over the Rule's lawfulness will promote "the development of the law and the percolation of legal issues in the lower courts" and allow the Supreme Court, if it chooses to address the Rule, to do so "[with] the benefit of additional viewpoints from other lower federal courts and [with] a fully developed factual record." Amanda Frost, In Defense of Nationwide Injunctions, 93 N.Y.U. L. REV. 1065, 1107-08 (2018).[7]

         In sum, our decision to partially grant the stay simply upholds the law of our circuit by ensuring that injunctive relief is properly tailored to the alleged harm.[8]

         While this appeal proceeds, the district court retains jurisdiction to further develop the record in support of a preliminary injunction extending beyond the Ninth Circuit. Cf. Trump, 897 F.3d at 1245 ("Because the record is insufficiently developed as to the question of the national scope of the injunction, we vacate the injunction to the extent that it applies outside California and remand to the district ...


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