OPINION: Judge Avoids Constitution on Sanctuary Cities

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By: Stephen A. Innamorato, III

On Tuesday April 25th, U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick temporarily blocked enforcement of President Donald Trump’s executive order designed to withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities. Orrick issued the ban in response to lawsuits challenging the order by the city of San Francisco and by Santa Clara County. Orrick’s block on the enforcement of the order will remain in effect nationwide while the lawsuits proceed through the court system.

“Sanctuary Cities” are those which violate federal immigration law by protecting illegal immigrants. Government officials in those cities prohibit local law enforcement from turning over to federal agents any illegal aliens who’ve committed crimes. Sanctuary cities exist in violation of constitutionally passed federal law which supersedes any state or local law under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The Constitution gives Congress the sole power to set immigration law. Pursuant to that authority, Congress has enacted laws which require local authorities to work with federal officials in enforcing the immigration laws. Those laws require the cooperation of local authorities in notifying the feds of any illegal aliens in their cities. The laws further require local authorities to cooperate in turning over to the feds any illegal aliens who’ve been lawfully detained.

By refusing to abide by the immigration laws, local authorities are protecting illegal aliens from deportation and preventing federal authorities from enforcing the immigration laws. Under the immigration laws, any person who assists an illegal alien in avoiding detection can be charged with a crime.

Recent reports suggest that sanctuary cities have become flooded with illegal aliens who commit violent crimes. These illegal aliens include members of a notorious Central American gang known as MS-13. Gang members have worked their way into the city streets of America where they’re slaying innocent civilians.

Trump’s executive order withholds some federal dollars from sanctuary cities until they comply with federal immigration laws. The Trump Administration deemed the order necessary in order to keep criminal illegal aliens off the streets, thereby making America safe.

Trump’s narrowly worded executive order here is a valid exercise of his constitutionally mandated authority as president to keep the U.S. safe from enemies at home and abroad. Judge Orrick’s decision temporarily banning enforcement of the order violates the Separation of Powers in the Constitution because he’s putting his judgment above Trump’s exclusive constitutional authority to act on matters of national security.

In reaching his decision, Orrick concluded that Trump doesn’t have the authority as president to set new conditions on federal spending previously approved by Congress. Orrick added that even if Trump did have the presidential authority to set those conditions, he couldn’t use a city’s immigration enforcement strategy as a condition unless Congress specifically appropriated the funds for that purpose.

Orrick’s decision suggests that the president can use a city’s immigration enforcement strategy as a condition for federal funding if Congress appropriates the funds for that purpose. This should send a strong message to Trump and to the Republican-led Congress for future spending bills. Basically, Trump can direct that federal funds to cities be used for immigration enforcement provided Congress limits the appropriation of the funds for this purpose.

Orrick also seemed to base his decision on public statements made by Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions where they referred to the executive order as a “weapon” to be used against sanctuary cities. Orrick’s job is to determine the legal validity of the order based solely on its contents. He’s not supposed to consider political statements which go outside the four corners of the written order under review.

It’s no coincidence that any White House appeal of Orrick’s decision would be heard by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (9th Circuit Court). That Court has already ruled against one of Trump’s terror bans. On Wednesday the Court also rejected the White House’s request for an immediate reversal of Orrick’s decision on the sanctuary cities order.

Trump knows that his opponents on the left are misusing the courts to defeat his agenda. In a statement issued after Orrick’s decision, the Trump administration accused Trump’s opponents of forum shopping so as to ensure that any legal challenges to his orders are brought before activist judges who will likely rule in favor of the challengers.

The legal posturing of Trump’s opponents highlights the importance of now having Neil Gorsuch as an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Trump made Gorsuch’s nomination and appointment to the Court a high priority during the first 100 days of his presidency. On Wednesday Trump tweeted, “SEE YOU IN COURT. THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!”

Trump is further signaling that he’s not about to let his enemies on the left succeed. The 9th Circuit Court which the left is using to disrupt Trump’s agenda is populated with activist judges who render political decisions that often don’t comport with the rule of law. That Court’s decisions have the highest reversal rate by the Supreme Court.

On Wednesday Trump said he may try to break up the 9th Circuit Court, but that will require an act of Congress. The Constitution gives Congress the sole power to establish courts inferior to the Supreme Court in the federal court system.

Here’s another suggestion for Trump. He should use the bully pulpit of the presidency and address the nation so as to sway public support in his favor. This is something that worked well for Ronald Reagan during his presidency when he faced fierce opposition from the establishment.

In Trump’s address he should explain how the left is actively working to undermine him, particularly through activist judges in the federal court system. He should close the address by reminding Americans and the activist judges of something he tweeted in February after a federal judge blocked one of his orders intended to keep terrorists out of the U.S. He tweeted at the time, “Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!”

Mr. President, the time has come for you to take your case directly to the American people. The twitter thing and an occasional rally with your supporters won’t be enough to defeat those looney leftists.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of Hudson County TV LLC.

 

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Stephen graduated from Seton Hall University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and an accounting major. He later received his law degree from Seton Hall University Law School. He worked as an accountant before entering the legal profession in 1988. He has practiced law ever since, mostly in the private sector. During that period he also worked as an adjunct college professor. In addition to his private sector experience, he has held professional positions in the public sector at the local, county, and state levels. In 2010 he began doing some freelance writing and broadcasting as a side-career. In July of 2015 he became a regular contributor to his own blog, “An Outsider’s View”. In January of 2016 he brought “An Outsider’s View” to internet radio where he regularly broadcasts on Warcradio.com. He offers analysis/commentary on current events involving the law, government, politics, business, education, world and national affairs.

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