WASHINGTON — İn January, a little-known federal judge in Pennsylvania blocked new Trump administration rules that would have allowed employers to deny women free birth control benefits on religious and moral grounds.
Judge Wendy Beetlestone’s tool? A nationwide preliminary injunction enjoining the Trump administration from enforcing the rules not only in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the two states suing the government, but throughout the United States.
With the stroke of a pen, Beetlestone, an Obama appointee, blocked a policy albeit temporarily that opponents say could adversely affect the lives of millions of women.
This prompts the question: Should a single judge, one of several hundred appointed to the federal bench, have the power to decide a question of momentous weight for the entire country?
The question is hardly an academic one. A nationwide preliminary injunction, also called a universal injunction, is a court ruling that temporarily prevents a government policy from taking effect while legal challenges make their way through the court system.
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