A federal district court ruling yesterday bars President Trump from withholding funds from jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with federal agencies to deport undocumented immigrants, marking his second setback in court on immigration. The first setback, of course, was his Muslim ban.
Before I get to the substance of this post, first things first:
First the Ninth Circuit rules against the ban & now it hits again on sanctuary cities-both ridiculous rulings. See you in the Supreme Court!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 26, 2017
No, it wasn’t the Ninth Circuit that ruled against Donald — it was a federal district court — one level down. Yes, the court is within the Ninth Circuit, but it isn’t the ACTUAL Ninth Circuit court itself. So the next stop isn’t the Supreme Court, it’s the Ninth Circuit.
Also, it wasn’t JUST the Ninth Circuit that ruled against Trump’s Muslim ban; it was a federal district court in Maryland. And Massachusetts, I believe, as well.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) April 26, 2017
*Sigh*. He apparently thinks you sue a circuit court when you don’t like a decision.
Look, the opinion was a no-brainer.
Trump’s order, signed Jan. 25, threatened to cut off funding from local governments that refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities. Santa Clara County and the city of San Francisco challenged the order, arguing, among other things, that the president doesn’t have the power to withhold federal money.
They’re right. He doesn’t.
The 49-page ruling focused largely on an all-too-familiar theme for this administration: the consequences of bragging and bluster by Trump and top administration officials.
Just like the judges who ruled on Trump’s travel ban, Judge Orrick homed in on the vast discrepancies between what government lawyers defending the sanctuary cities order argued in court and what administration officials said about it in public.
In court, the government tried to make the case that the order doesn’t actually do anything, at least not at the moment, because the administration has yet to define what exactly a sanctuary city is or threaten any particular jurisdiction with a loss of funds. It was their way of convincing the judge to toss out the lawsuit on the grounds that no city or county has yet suffered any harm.
The problem with that approach is that administration officials boasted about how the order would force sanctuary cities to their knees, singling out particular places. So, in court, the Trump lawyers argued that it was essentially an empty shell even though it was portrayed in news conferences, briefings and television interviews as a powerful tool to protect the public from dangerous undocumented immigrants being shielded by wayward cities and counties.
Fine,said, Judge Orrick. If the order is powerless, then surely you won’t mind if I impose this injunction which prevents you from actually doing anything. So that’s what he did.
I somehow don’t think Trump was briefed about that, because he is treating it as a loss. Which it IS, but it’s just what his lawyers argued.
According to Orrick, the government contended that the order was merely an example of Trump using the “bully pulpit” to “highlight a changed approach to immigration enforcement” — in essence, something much more benign than what Trump and company had described.
The argument was lost on the judge, who ridiculed the government’s position as “schizophrenic.”
“If there was doubt about the scope of the Order, the President and Attorney General have erased it with their public comments,” Orrick wrote.
“Is the Order merely a rhetorical device,” he added, “or a ‘weapon’ to defund the Counties and those who have implemented a different law enforcement strategy than the Government currently believes is desirable?”
The ruling continued: “The statements of the President, his press secretary and the Attorney General belie the Government’s argument in the briefing that the Order does not change the law. They have repeatedly indicated an intent to defund sanctuary jurisdictions in compliance with the Executive Order.”
Here is the decision. If you do nothing else, read the last paragraph.