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April 25, 2017

District Judge Issues Injunction Against Trump Order Reducing Funding for Sanctuary Cities

Commenters mentioned this earlier, but I just found a longer story.

Legal analyst Jonathan Turley says of the order (on Twitter) "Court's stay of DOJ sanctuary city order strikes me as clear judicial overreach and clearly reversible on appeal "

So here's the latest bit of lawlessness from our Royal Class.


Shock -- a San Francisco case. The Ninth Circus strikes again.

A federal judge on Tuesday blocked any attempt by the Trump administration to withhold funding from "sanctuary cities" that do not cooperate with U.S. immigration authorities, saying the president has no authority to attach new conditions to federal spending.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick issued the preliminary injunction in two lawsuits - one brought by the city of San Francisco, the other by Santa Clara County - against an executive order targeting communities that protect immigrants from deportation.

The injunction will stay in place while the lawsuits work their way through court.

The judge said that President Donald Trump cannot set new conditions for the federal grants at stake. And even if he could, the conditions would have to be clearly related to the funds at issue and not coercive, Orrick said.

There is a possible legal problem with cutting off funding, as I've mentioned before -- and it was part of the reason that one part of Obamacare (the mandated Medicaid expansion) got ruled unconstitutional.

It's the Anti-Commandeering Doctrine, which most conservatives would generally agree with: That the federal government cannot "commandeer" state agents to enforce federal law. That doctrine is not absolute; states had federal highway monies withheld unless they reduced their own speed limits to 55mph or raised the drinking age to 21, for example.

Courts seem to take a guess in this area between some consequences for refusing to obey Congress and major consequences. In the Obamacare case, the law originally said all Medicaid funds would be terminated unless states expanded their own Medicaid coverage. The court found this to be a case of "commandeering" states to obey the government, and struck it down.

However, we do know from a large, large number of laws that are presumably constitutional that the feds can withhold money from states that do not comply with its decisions.

And in fact, the doctrine might not apply at all here -- because Trump and Sessions are not ordering the states or jurisdictions to take any action. Just to supply them with information about which of its prisoners are illegal -- and the Court has previously ruled such requests for information are not what is meant by "commandeering."

Feldman and others point to New York v. United States (1992) and Printz v. United States (1997), in which the Supreme Court concluded that the federal government cannot conscript state or local officials to carry out federal law. The federal government must enforce its own laws, using federal personnel. So when state or local police arrest immigrants who are present in the country illegally, they are under no obligation to deport them, as deportation is the responsibility of the federal government alone.

This “anti-commandeering” doctrine, however, doesn’t protect sanctuary cities or public universities — because it doesn’t apply when Congress merely requests information. For example, in Reno v. Condon (2000), the Court unanimously rejected an anti-commandeering challenge to the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, which required states under certain circumstances to disclose some personal details about license holders. The court concluded that, because the DPPA requested information and “did not require state officials to assist in the enforcement of federal statutes,” it was consistent with the New York and Printz cases.

It follows that, consistent with the anti-commandeering doctrine, Congress can require state, local or university police to tell federal agents when they arrest an immigrant present in the country illegally.

The article goes on to say that while a state or city can order its personnel not to ask about immigration status, and the federal government cannot order them to do so (that would be "commandeering"), state/city employees nevertheless may have easy access to that information and must provide it if requested. The example the article offers is California drivers licenses for illegal aliens -- the licenses have markings on them indicating that they may not be valid outside of California, and hence, any cop taking an arrestee's ID would know his immigration status without asking, and then can in fact be compelled to relay that to the government.

If California wants to make itself immune to that, they'd have to destroy any records in their possession that indicate such status -- effectively granting citizenship to all residents.

Which they can't do. That's a federal power.

We'll have to watch this one.

(BTW, this article from the LATimes is new information to me -- I didn't realize the anti-commandeering doctrine did not apply to mere requests for information.)

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posted by Ace at 06:34 PM

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