Judge slaps Sessions, feds over 'sanctuary cities'

A federal judge has once again rebuked the administration's efforts to pressure so-called sanctuary cities, going fur...

Posted: Jun 7, 2018 5:14 AM
Updated: Jun 7, 2018 5:14 AM

A federal judge has once again rebuked the administration's efforts to pressure so-called sanctuary cities, going further than any to date in using a recent Supreme Court decision to rule an existing federal law unconstitutional.

The ruling Wednesday from Judge Michael Baylson, a George W. Bush appointee, thus far applies only to his district in the Philadelphia area, but it could lay the groundwork for even more rulings that further limit what the administration can do to punish sanctuary cities -- a key priority of the administration.

The decision relies, in part, on a May ruling from the Supreme Court on state gambling laws.

Baylson had already blocked the Justice Department from imposing new conditions on federal law enforcement grants that Philadelphia has received in the past, limiting his November ruling to the city, which had challenged the move by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. A federal judge in Chicago also has already blocked the new conditions nationwide, a ruling that was upheld in April by an appeals court. The effort from Sessions to impose the conditions had been an attempt to punish sanctuary cities after a federal judge in California had blocked the administration from pursuing broader funding threats.

But the ruling on Wednesday made Baylon's earlier preliminary decision permanent, ruling that the new conditions were illegal and unconstitutional, and went further -- declaring a seemingly obscure federal law that has served as the basis for a substantial amount of what the administration has sought to do on sanctuary cities unconstitutional itself.

The Justice Department released a fiery statement from spokesman Devin O'Malley blasting the ruling, calling it "a victory for criminal aliens in Philadelphia, who can continue to commit crimes in the city knowing that its leadership will protect them from federal immigration officers whose job it is to hold them accountable and remove them from the country."

O'Malley said the department still believes, contrary to the judge's ruling, that it acted legally, and vowed to keep fighting. The agency also released a list of criminals it said Philadelphia had released.

Sanctuary city is a catchall term used to describe jurisdictions that in some way don't cooperate with federal immigration enforcement, especially in terms of detaining immigrants for extra time in jail so they can be picked up by federal authorities, or allowing federal agents into jails to take custody of immigrants. Federal authorities say the enforcement is necessary to keep communities safe, but some local police chiefs say they have policies against such cooperation in order to preserve local resources and maintain essential trust with immigrant communities and victims of crimes.

The Trump administration has been aggressive from its first days in trying to punish cities it deems to be sanctuaries and has used escalating rhetoric to blame those cities for violence, but it has repeatedly been rebuked by the courts, with federal judges in California, Illinois and Pennsylvania blocking various administration efforts to restrict federal funds to cities it perceives to be uncooperative.

But to date, the administration has been allowed to enforce a law referred to by its US Code number, 1373. The small, arcane piece of the Immigration and Nationality Act requires that state and local governments transmit information about individuals' immigration status to the federal government if asked, and that no state or local governments or officials can prohibit doing so.

Until Wednesday, courts have ruled that the federal government is allowed to enforce that law -- which has allowed the Trump administration to maintain one requirement on law enforcement grants already in place that cities comply with 1373, though virtually every sanctuary city maintains it is in compliance, and Baylson issued a formal order that Philadelphia is in fact compliant.

But Baylson cited a substantial ruling from the Supreme Court last month, Murphy v. NCAA, that legalized sports gambling at the state level to go further than any court to date -- ruling that 1373 itself is unconstitutional. The judge wrote that because the Supreme Court had found in that case that the federal government could not prohibit states from passing certain laws, the sanctuary city law was also unconstitutional.

"Because Section 1373 directly tells states and state actors that they must refrain from enacting certain state laws, it is unconstitutional under the Tenth Amendment," Baylson wrote.

The ruling could have a ripple effect in ongoing sanctuary city litigation around the country, where a number of cities and states have sued over administration efforts to punish them.

The Justice Department has itself filed a lawsuit, against California and its sanctuary law. That case partially rests on 1373 as a justification of federal authority.

Earlier this week, Sessions succeeded in his efforts to have the full 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals hear his appeal on the Chicago ruling, but the Justice Department challenged only the ruling from a smaller panel of 7th Circuit judges upholding that the decision could apply nationwide. It is the nationwide nature of the ruling that the full 7th Circuit Court will hear, not whether Sessions' actions are legal or constitutional.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 512632

Reported Deaths: 10262
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34853555
DeSoto33162432
Hinds32556641
Jackson24830389
Rankin22442402
Lee16238242
Madison14874283
Jones14086247
Forrest13741259
Lauderdale12249324
Lowndes11286193
Lamar10644140
Pearl River9707244
Lafayette8827143
Hancock7835132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7204138
Monroe6989179
Pontotoc6970109
Warren6849178
Panola6746134
Neshoba6726210
Marshall6653141
Bolivar6440151
Union633897
Pike5924156
Alcorn5862107
Lincoln5525136
George510180
Prentiss500884
Tippah490282
Itawamba4829107
Scott477499
Adams4766125
Tate4748116
Leflore4723144
Copiah455895
Yazoo455591
Simpson4543117
Wayne442772
Covington432895
Sunflower4299106
Marion4265112
Coahoma4227109
Leake413790
Newton395581
Tishomingo381793
Grenada3775109
Stone365666
Jasper340166
Attala337790
Winston317792
Chickasaw313367
Clay311878
Clarke301195
Calhoun284449
Holmes271289
Smith268952
Yalobusha243747
Tallahatchie231453
Greene224749
Walthall221366
Lawrence217840
Perry213356
Amite209557
Webster205148
Noxubee188642
Montgomery181557
Carroll174441
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152639
Kemper144941
Choctaw136527
Claiborne134238
Humphreys131139
Franklin124929
Quitman107528
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96834
Sharkey65121
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 844594

Reported Deaths: 16115
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1160612006
Mobile741651379
Madison53255732
Shelby38313368
Baldwin38061589
Tuscaloosa35996641
Montgomery34473781
Lee25541263
Calhoun22582518
Morgan22441406
Etowah20009517
Marshall18771316
Houston17723425
St. Clair16863358
Limestone16123218
Cullman16032303
Elmore15902294
Lauderdale14945306
Talladega14186299
DeKalb12957269
Walker12011380
Blount10700192
Autauga10512157
Jackson10151194
Coffee9412192
Colbert9325208
Dale9013191
Tallapoosa7248201
Russell707465
Chilton7015170
Escambia6951143
Covington6926195
Franklin6337108
Chambers5778142
Marion5400130
Dallas5283209
Pike5114109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4777110
Geneva4640136
Bibb434094
Barbour369180
Butler3433100
Marengo342393
Monroe336666
Randolph334067
Pickens333188
Fayette329885
Henry320566
Hale317989
Cherokee316963
Crenshaw260477
Washington256952
Cleburne254360
Lamar251253
Clay250869
Macon244764
Conecuh192762
Coosa184647
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139041
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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