“How can a single judge decide a question for the whole country?” Mr. Bray said.
The use of local cases to issue national orders occurred only a few times until President Barack Obama’s second term, when Republican state attorneys general turned to that strategy about half a dozen times to stop some of his major initiatives, Mr. Bray said.
The tactic has grown more popular as voters become more polarized and Congress is historically unproductive. “If the legislature were solving problems and creating legislation, and if we didn’t have as much executive overreach, then these big national issues wouldn’t be going to the courts as much,” said Wendy R. Weiser, a director at the Brennan Center for Justice.
Federal district court judges issued sweeping national injunctions in individual cases that stymied attempts by both Mr. Trump and Mr. Obama to change how the United States treats undocumented immigrants. Federal judges in Texas used them to stop Mr. Obama’s…