Judge Blocks Trump's Executive Order On Sanctuary Cities

"The threat is unconstitutionally coercive," declared a judge.

By Eric Shorey

Although the recently-coined phrase "sanctuary city" does not have a strict legal definition (yet), a battle is waging over locations that refuse to comply with President Donald Trump's orders on immigration and policing. Trump and his team have made it clear that they are looking to punish cities that disobey him by removing or re-allocating federal funding away from them. Trump signed an executive order to do just that, but just last night a judge blocked that order, declaring the decree from Trump unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick has issued a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking Trump's order’s enforcement, according to The Huffington Post.

“The Constitution vests the spending powers in Congress, not the President, so the Order cannot constitutionally place new conditions on federal funds,” wrote Orrick, who was nominated to the court by Barack Obama. “Federal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the President disapproves." The judge similarly concluded that the order written by Trump was far too vague to be enforceable and would be in violation of the Fifth and Tenth Amendments. 

Unsurprisingly, Trump reacted to the news over twitter:

Similarly unsurprising, Trump got the details of the case wrong in his tweets: it was not a Ninth Circuit judge that blocked him — it was a federal judge.

Orrick notably used Trump and Sessions' own words against them in his ruling: "If there was doubt about the scope of the order, the President and Attorney General have erased it with their public comments," Orrick said. "The President has called it 'a weapon' to use against jurisdictions that disagree with his preferred policies of immigration enforcement, and his press secretary has reiterated that the President intends to ensure that 'counties and other institutions that remain sanctuary cites don't get federal government funding in compliance with the executive order' ... The threat is unconstitutionally coercive."

“The Order’s uncertainty interferes with the Counties’ ability to budget, plan for the future, and properly serve their residents,” Orrick continued. “Without clarification regarding the Order’s scope or legality, the Counties will be obligated to take steps to mitigate the risk of losing millions of dollars in federal funding, which will include placing funds in reserve and making cuts to services. These mitigating steps will cause the Counties irreparable harm.”

Officials from cities who are attempting to disobey Trump declared the ruling a great triumph of justice: “Words matter and what the president said in public as a candidate and after he was sworn in certainly impacted how the court viewed this case,” San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said. “That inconsistency hurt the presentation of the government’s case, so I think it’s best that they move on from that and just focus on the law.”

[Photo: Getty Images]

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