Senate Democrats Send Letter to Federal Judge in Latest Effort to Curb Judge Shopping

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, July 10, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and 18 other senators sent a letter to Judge Robin L. Rosenberg, a federal judge in the Southern District of Florida and the chair of the rule-making committee for the Judicial Conference. 

This letter represents the latest move in Democratic-led efforts to amend single-judge divisions, which allow all federal cases filed in a particular geographic region to be assigned to one judge. 

By filing a lawsuit in a division overseen by a singular — often sympathetic — judge, plaintiffs can take advantage of single-judge divisions, which effectively allow litigants to intentionally select which judge hears their case. Critics, like Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-H.I.), call the practice “judge shopping” or “forum shopping.” 

Schumer argues in the letter that the inconsistent nature of the federal judicial system, specifically the ability for “some plaintiffs… to guarantee that their claims will be heard before a specific judge whereas others are left to chance” contributes to the “undermin[ing] [of] Americans’ faith in our judicial system.” He then urges Rosenberg to “provide applicable recommendations to every district court in order to address this problem and restore fairness to our federal judiciary.” 

In an interview with the New York Times, Schumer pointed to the case involving mifepristone (a hormone-blocker used in regimen with misoprostol to end a pregnancy) that was filed in Amarillo, Texas as an example of egregious abuse of the single-judge division system. The north Texas town is part of a single-judge division, where Trump-appointee Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk is the sole federal judge in his division and was known to be hostile to Roe v. Wade ahead of the case’s filing.

This letter is a part of Democrats’ ongoing efforts to pursue multi-faceted judicial reform that predates the recent scandals and misconduct at the U.S. Supreme Court, which has the public doubting the impartiality of courts. 

Read the letter here.