MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Another Court Rules Against Trump's Threat to Cut Off Funding for Sanctuary Cities

The 9th Circuit says pressuring cities to help the feds enforce immigration law is unconstitutional.

|||Shawn Thew/Pool/CNP/MEGA / NewscomShawn Thew/Pool/CNP/MEGA / NewscomThe U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit yesterday dealt another blow to President Trump's plan to punish sanctuary cities by withholding federal grant money. In a 2-to-1 decision, a 9th Circuit panel ruled that the threat against cities that do not help the feds enforce immigration law is unconstitutional.

Although the appeals court agreed with U.S. District Judge William Orrick's legal analysis in a ruling he issued last April, it concluded that he went too far by imposing a nationwide injunction. Since the challenge was brought by San Francisco and Santa Clara counties, the 9th Circuit narrowed the injunction's scope from the entire United States to just California.

Justice Department spokesperson Devin O'Malley said the ruling was a victory for "criminal aliens in California, who can continue to commit crimes knowing that the state's leadership will protect them from federal immigration officers whose job it is to hold them accountable and remove them from the country."

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera had a different perspective. "When a president overreaches and tries to assert authority he doesn't have under the Constitution," Herrera said, "there needs to be a check on that power grab."

In March 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department would withhold $4.1 billion in federal grants from sanctuary cities. That September, a federal judge in Illinois granted a temporary injunction that halted the administration's imposition of the penalties on Chicago.

As Reason's Scott Shackford reported, U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber concluded that Title 8, Section 1373 of the U.S. Code, the law on which the administration was relying, is unconstitutional. "In the end," Leinenweber wrote, "Section 1373 requires local policymakers to stand aside and allow the federal government to conscript the time and cooperation of local employees. This robs the local executive of its autonomy and ties the hands of the local legislature. Such affronts to State sovereignty are not countenanced by the anticommandeering principle of the Constitution. Section 1373 is unconstitutional and cannot stand."

Photo Credit: Shawn Thew/Pool/CNP/MEGA / Newscom

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    You know what else another court ruled?

  • Echospinner||

    So if she weighs the same as a duck...

  • guy who doesn't care||

    "The 9th Circuit says"

    don't care.

  • Nardz||

    "The 9th circuit says..."
    "...80% of our verdicts our overturned, but the supreme court doesn't have enough time to hear all of our unconstitutional rulings. Keep jammin em through!"

  • Mickey Rat||

    It is the short bus Circuit.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Same judicial philosophy as Obama.

    Do every unconstitutional thing you want. Anything you get away with is a win.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Does this mean Montana can get rid of its speed limits now and not lose federal highway funding?

  • Mickey Rat||

    Don't be silly.

  • Max S.||

    But the same tactic was used to get states to follow the federal guidelines on speed limits and for a uniform 21 year old drinking age. What is so different about this?

  • Otto Didact||

    "What is so different about this?"

    What is different is that the left has no problem with low speed limits or arbitrary drinking ages. Such regulations are for our own good. Sanctuary Cities, on the other hand, are a leftist sacred cow which NOBODY better mess with. Dollars to donut holes, if you tried to get said speed limits abolished or drinking afe lowered and defended it using the EXACT SAME ARGUMENTS, the selfsame 9th Circuit would rule AGAINST you. Anybody who expects logical consistency from leftists is in the market for tickets to the all-pig cast setting of Aida.

  • AustinRoth||

    At least the Appeals Courts are pre-emptively starting to reign in District Courts issuing national injunctions.

    It is probably an attempt to keep SCOTUS from ruling only they can issues those, which is how it should work.

  • Rich||

    Since the challenge was brought by San Francisco and Santa Clara counties, the 9th Circuit narrowed the injunction's scope from the entire United States to just California.

    Why does the 9th Circuit hate all the rest of the counties in California? WHY?!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Think of the poor bastards in Idaho who are also in the 9th circuit.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Why are you bothering?

    In a few months it'll all be moot.

    The USSC will take this up and elected officials who violate their oaths of office will find that the teat they suckle at has gone dry.

  • Rich||

    elected officials who violate their oaths of office will find that the teat they suckle at has gone dry.

    Citation needed.

  • Robespierre Josef Stalin Pot||

    ...but it's the law! Libertarians who don't understand the rule of law is absolute are just soooo stupid, man. NO FUCKING JAYWALKING, ASSHOLES!

  • Bubba Jones||

    Do they have to actually "deny" funding or can they just require SF to show good cause on their application for funding renewals.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Yes, the federal government should not be able to order states and cities around.

    Harboring criminals is already a crime and aiding and abetting is too. This is different than the federal gov wanting all states to set 21 drinking age by threatening hihghway funds.

    The 9th circuit is going to lose as the SCOTUS will rule that the federal government can give that money for whatever reason and take it away for any reason.

    The cities want the money for any reason but think it wrong for the federal government to take it away for any reason.

  • sarcasmic||

    I assume that by criminals you mean people who don't have their Papiere, Ja?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    What papers?

  • sarcasmic||

    So you're a fan of the 16th Amendment, you know, the one that created the income tax? Because before the 16A the feds didn't have the power to take money from individuals within states, and then dictate conditions for having that money given to their state governments. Seems you're a big fan of this now that your man Trump is wielding the power. Woo hoo! Income tax! It gives Trump the power to punish localities that don't arrest people without proper Papiere, Ja?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    16th Amendment: The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

    Looks like the feds now have the power to collect income tax from all residents of the USA in any state.

    You can change or repeal the 16A with 3/4 of the states ratifying the change/repeal. Good luck.

  • sarcasmic||

    So you think the feds should be able to go beyond their enumerated powers and coerce states into passing laws that the federal government can not pass, by blackmailing them with their own money.

    And here I thought you supported limited government and enumerated powers. Guess it all depends on who is in charge, eh?

  • sarcasmic||

    Actually I never thought that. You love the hammer of government when it is wielded against people you don't like.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Sanctuary cities are illegal
    The officials responsible should be prosecuted
    8 U.S. Code § 1324 - Bringing in and harboring certain aliens
    (a)(1)(A)
    (iii) knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, conceals, harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection

    http://bit.ly/2ErBBNQ

  • Otto Didact||

    Has SCOTUS already granted cert on this issue? If not, I don't think I'd be too awfully in a hurry to bet your home that they will. A lot of the time SCOTUS simply refuses to hear a case which means that the lower court's ruling stands.

    If, as you say, Mr/Ms (or whichever pronoun you prefer), the actions of the authorities in "sanctuary cities" is already against the law, why doesn't the AGUS simply get a federal grand jury indictment and send in U.S. Marshals to arrest the lawbreakers? Would not any interference also constitute a federal offence?

  • Marilyn6||

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""The 9th Circuit says pressuring cities to help the feds enforce immigration law is unconstitutional.""

    I wonder what the 9th would say if it was a city not enforcing a federal gun ban?

  • ChuckNorrisBeardFist||

    But it's ok to not enforce the laws that are on the books right? (Not debating if it's a good or bad law).
    I'm confused. Grants aren't free. They always have strings attached. So basically the 9th is saying that the feds have to give the cities money and the cites say FYTY

    I also wait for the 9th Court's ruling on the SALT lawsuits.

  • texexpatriate||

    My sympathies lie with the cities and states on the one hand, but on the other, the more important one in this case, the (nasty old tyrannical) federal government ought to be able to shut down these cities, counties, and states in any way it chooses because the invasion by illegal aliens is a danger to the entire nation. A threat against the entire nation is the business of the national government. The rest is state, county, and city business.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online