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Amicus Brief Filed: Hornbeck Offshore Services v. Jewell

August 14, 2013 in Economics

Cato has filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to hear the case Hornbeck Offshore Services v. Jewell, because the appellate court’s ruling undermines the rule of law and the judiciary’s independent authority. Under the Fifth Circuit’s rule, government agencies will be able to legally avoid court orders with bureaucratic trickery. If only the explicit text of an injunction—and not any of its spirit or clear purpose—binds the federal government, Congress or the executive could simply rename whatever statute or regulation has been declared unconstitutional and continue enforcing the substantively unconstitutional rule. Such an overly technical rule would force district court judges into the role of mind-readers, trying to predict how the government could avoid a ruling. Without an effective contempt power to punish the violation of its orders, even the Supreme Court would be unable to enforce its important rulings, such as ending the District of Columbia’s unconstitutional ban on handguns, and striking down section 3 of DOMA.

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