A federal judge in Louisiana ruled on June 15th that President Biden cannot pause new leases for drilling on public lands. It was a suit filed by 12 states and Louisiana. According to the NYT:

Judge Terry A. Doughty of the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana granted a preliminary injunction Tuesday against the administration, saying that the power to pause offshore oil and gas leases “lies solely with Congress” because it was the legislative branch that originally made federal lands and waters available for leasing.

Judge Doughty also ruled that 13 states that are suing the administration over its temporary halt to new leases “have made a showing that there is a substantial likelihood that President Biden exceeded his powers.”

My question: does this ruling only affect the 13 states? Is the suspension still applicable to a state like Colorado (not part of the suit)?

1 Answer 1


No, the injunction is applicable nationwide. The rationale for this is addressed in the conclusion of the memorandum ruling:

The Plaintiff States have satisfied all four elements required for a preliminary injunction to be issued. After considering all factors, this Court has determined that a preliminary injunction should be issued by Plaintiff States against the Government Defendants.

The Court will now address the geographic scope. This Court does not favor nationwide injunctions unless absolutely necessary. However, it is necessary here because of the need for uniformity. Texas, 809 F.3d at 187–88. The Agency Defendants’ lease sales are located on public lands and in offshore waters across the nation. Uniformity is needed despite this Court’s reluctance to issue a nationwide injunction. Therefore, the scope of this injunction shall be nationwide.

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    And even without that scoping, generally a Federal judge's ruling applies to their whole district, and is precedent nationwide in the absence of contrary rulings. Jun 16, 2021 at 14:42
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    @WilliamWalkerIII A district court ruling is only persuasive precedent, not binding precedent. And, it wouldn't even be binding on another judge in the same judicial district until there was a final order in the case on the merits.
    – ohwilleke
    Jun 17, 2021 at 20:48
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    Worth noting that there is an ongoing debate in civil procedure jurisprudence over when injunctions that benefit non-parties are appropriate in public law cases.
    – ohwilleke
    Jun 17, 2021 at 20:50
  • @ohwilleke: Technically, any precedent is only binding until a judge disagrees with it.
    – Vikki
    Jul 21, 2021 at 23:17
  • @Vikki Not really. Lower courts are bound and not legally permitted to disagree with higher court binding precedent. Courts not bound can decide to disagree with it.
    – ohwilleke
    Jul 22, 2021 at 0:44

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