Republican officials had great success under President Barack Obama in persuading judges to block or complicate his efforts to expand health care, shield immigrants from deportation and protect transgender students. Now Democratic officials are using the principles established in those cases to frustrate President Trump’s efforts to limit travel from predominantly Muslim countries and to punish so-called sanctuary cities.
In the decision on Tuesday, Judge William H. Orrick of Federal District Court in San Francisco relied on a 2012 Supreme Court decision allowing states to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid. That ruling, which added major complications to the rollout of the health care law, was popular with conservatives.
Mr. Trump’s first travel ban was also halted by a nationwide injunction, entered by a judge in Seattle, and his revised travel ban was blocked by nationwide injunctions from judges in Maryland and Hawaii.
That last order did not sit well with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who criticized Judge Derrick K. Watson of Federal District Court in Honolulu — “a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific,” as Mr. Sessions put it — for issuing a ruling that would apply to the whole nation.
But Judge Watson relied on a 2015 appeals court ruling blocking Mr. Obama’s immigration program that said such nationwide injunctions were required to ensure uniformity. The court affirmed an injunction issued by a single judge in Brownsville, Tex., who said Mr. Obama had exceeded his authority.
As a senator, Mr. Sessions cheered that ruling, saying it was “an injunction that stopped the Obama administration from proceeding with its lawless immigration system.”