While all eyes were on the election, a federal agency dominated by appointees of President Donald Trump revoked the collective bargaining rights of the nation's immigration judges.
In a decision released Tuesday, the Federal Labor Relations Authority said the judges, some of whom have clashed with the Trump administration over its immigration policies and response to COVID-19, did not have the right to union representation.
The FLRA's two Republican members argued that, because court rulings affect the implementation of policy, judges are not workers but "managers. " The lone Democratic appointee called the majority's argument "sophistry, " saying its decision to overturn the finding of its own regional director — upholding a union that has been recognized since 1979 — constituted "the antithesis of reasoned decision making. "
Judge Ashley Tabaddor, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, the union that represents more than 400 justices, blasted the decision, telling Business Insider that its release now was "not a coincidence. "
"FLRA's decision betrays the predetermined nature of the whole case, " Tabaddor said. "It makes a mockery of the rule of law. "
The decision could enable the federal government to dismiss judges that fail to hew to its line on asylum-seekers and deportations, treating them as at-will employees and thus undermining their ability to exercise independence. Over 40 judges quit in 2019, nearly double the number who resigned in 2017 and 2018, according to CNN.