Ken Paxton is “judge shopping” in the Drew Tipton aisle

Judges Drew Tipton and Ken Paxton

US District Judge Drew Tipton (L) (US District Court for the Southern District of Texas), Ken Paxton (R) (via Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The Ministry of Justice formally charged Texas prosecutors are “judge shopping” by strategically ensuring that lawsuits against the Biden administration are heard before fellow judges, including one memorably criticized by attorneys as allegedly “the emperor of United States immigration policy” following a sweeping anti-immigration ruling in 2021.

In January, Texas and 19 other Republican-led states sued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and questioned the government’s use of “probationary powers” for immigrants, claiming that the “abuse” of the DHS will continue to “permit potentially hundreds of thousands of additional aliens to enter any of their already overwhelmed territories.” “.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s (R) office filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Victoria Division — a decision the Biden administration’s DOJ now alleges was made solely by the desire of Texas was motivated to bring the case before a US District Judge Drew Tipton, a man appointed by Donald Trump. Specifically, the case was not filed in the division containing Houston or other major metropolitan areas, and was not filed in a division along the southern border.

Given Victoria’s lack of connection to the case, the DOJ concluded that judge purchases are “the only explanation remaining.” Moreover, according to transcripts of court appearances in the Texas case, indeed authorized that it chose the Victoria Division because it preferred Tipton.

In a February 28 request for a change of venue, the DOJ quoted courtroom transcripts in which the Texas AG office stated, “The case is frankly being filed in Victoria, Your Honor, based on our experience with you. ”

What’s more, the DOJ, Texas said never files cases against the federal government in all departments where judges are randomly assigned to cases — only in departments where the Lone Star State knows in advance which judge will preside over the case. According to the DOJ’s recent letter:

In fact, all 28 state-vs-federal lawsuits filed in Texas federal district courts were filed in just seven divisions, where local rules severely limit the number of judges to which cases could be assigned (Victoria, Amarillo, Galveston, Lubbock, Tyler, Fort Worth, Midland), including 18 claims in departments where the case would necessarily have to be assigned to a single, pre-designated judge (Victoria, Amarillo, Galveston, Midland), and no fewer than seven here in Victoria .

The DOJ said cases have not been filed in locations actually connected to the lawsuit, nor have they been filed in the state capital, where most Texas state agencies are headquartered. When asked if the decisions were made for judge purchase purposes, the Texas attorney told the court that he “didn’t know why our firm chooses to keep filing in seven divisions.”

Since his appointment to the bench in 2020, Tipton has issued several sweeping rulings in favor of Texas in cases against the Biden administration. Immigration attorneys have criticized Tipton’s case law, saying it represents “judicial activism at its worst” as the judge issued statewide decisions stripping DHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of crucial powers to regulate immigration.

Although the DOJ has called that it deems Tipton to be impartial, it contends that Texas’ decision to file chambers in which a single judge rules all civil processes is strategic to the point where it is legally inappropriate.

During oral discussions on the change of venue, Justice Ministry Counsel Erez Reuveni argued that allowing plaintiffs to choose judges would undermine public confidence in the judicial system.

In response, Tipton suggested that the remedy for such a problem might lie with the DOJ itself.

“Don’t you think if the public told the Justice Department it would go a long way in addressing your public perception concerns?” asked Tipton.

The decision on whether to transfer the case to another department rests with Tipton himself and is expected to rule on the request over the next few weeks.

Tipton isn’t the only Trump-appointed Texas judge the DOJ has tried to move cases from. The government also asked US District Judge Matthew Joseph Kacsmaryk to transfer a Texas lawsuit over climate change regulations and asked US District Judge James Wesley Hendrix to transfer Texas’ challenge into an annual federal spending law.

Do you have a tip we should know? [email protected] Ken Paxton is “judge shopping” in the Drew Tipton aisle

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