Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) announced today that she has introduced a bill to limit “judge shopping,” in which litigants are essentially able to choose which judge hears precedent-setting cases.
The bill – which Sherrill first proposed at a Planned Parenthood news conference last month – was inspired by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s April 8 ruling on the legality of the abortion pill mifepristone. Kacsmaryk, a Donald Trump appointee from the Northern District of Texas, issued a nationwide hold on FDA approval of the pill, a ruling that was later walked back by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Anti-abortion extremists want to roll back women’s access to basic reproductive health and are completely out of touch with the majority of Americans,” Sherrill said in a statement. “They are now using court loopholes to attack the rights and freedoms of women across the country – despite their original position that this was a states’ rights issue.”
If enacted, Sherrill’s bill would require that lawsuits seeking rulings with nationwide effects be filed in courts with more than one judge, preventing litigants from hand-picking favorable judges. Kacsmaryk is the only judge covering his rural Texas jurisdiction, meaning that abortion pill opponents could know that he was going to hear their case when they filed it in Amarillo.
“My bill prevents shopping for judges and predetermining the outcome of a case that would result in a decision that impacts people across the country,” Sherrill said. “It would have prevented the recent case where a single judge, with little understanding of women’s health, ordered a nationwide ban on mifepristone. It is my hope that this legislation would also help restore people’s faith in our courts.”
According to CNN, Sherrill is the second congressional Democrat to introduce legislation addressing “judge shopping.” Last month, Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono proposed a bill in the Senate that would move all cases with nationwide implications to the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C., a court where 10 of 14 judges are Democratic appointees.