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Texas Federal Court Defies Judiciary’s Attempts to Reduce “Forum Shopping”

Texas court rejects proposed policy aimed at preventing judge shopping (Via David Baker/Shutterstock)

A federal court in Texas, often preferred by conservative parties, has refused a proposed policy to limit “judge shopping,” despite pressure from Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Chief U.S. District Judge David Godbey of the Northern District of Texas conveyed this decision in a letter to Schumer. The court is hesitant to adopt a random assignment process for cases challenging federal or state laws.

The policy, announced by the U.S. Judicial Conference on March 12, aimed to address concerns about strategic forum selection. It required such cases to be randomly assigned judges across a federal district, rather than staying in specific, smaller divisions where they were initially filed.

This change would disrupt a tactic used by conservative litigants who file cases in smaller divisions of Texas’ federal districts, often overseen by judges appointed by Republican presidents.

These judges frequently rule in favor of conservative causes like abortion, immigration, and gun control.

Baltimore Orioles cancel workout (Via Steve Robinson/Getty Images)

Despite facing opposition from Senate Republicans and some conservative judges, the judicial policymakers clarified that the policy was optional, allowing each district court to decide its implementation.

Godbey, appointed by former Republican President George W. Bush, explained in his letter that the judges in his district have chosen not to change their case assignment process.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas has 11 active judges and seven divisions, with larger numbers in Dallas and smaller ones in cities such as Amarillo, Fort Worth, and Lubbock.

Recently, a case presided over by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk from one of these smaller courts in Amarillo made its way to the Supreme Court.

Kacsmaryk, appointed by Trump, halted the approval of the abortion pill mifepristone. The Supreme Court allowed the pill to remain available while considering the appeal, indicating doubt about supporting restrictions.

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