By Josh Gerstein
May 03, 2017
When a federal judge blocked a key part of President Donald Trump’s executive order cracking down on sanctuary cities last week, the president had a tart reply: “See you in the Supreme Court.”
But a week later, there’s no sign even of an appeal in the case, let alone a bid to take the issue to the high court.
At a court hearing Tuesday in San Francisco, a Justice Department attorney gave no indication of plans to appeal the preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick, lawyers involved in the case said.
“There continued to be a disconnect between some of the rhetoric coming out of the White House and what they said in court,” said James Williams, counsel for Santa Clara County — which obtained last week’s nationwide injunction along with the nearby city of San Francisco (which is also a county). “They made no commitment, but indicated DOJ itself isn’t considering any stay of injunction pending appeal.”
A Justice Department lawyer did mention plans to file a motion to dismiss the cases. Williams described that as “odd,” given Orrick’s preliminary injunction found the localities likely to prevail on at least some of their claims.
Justice Department spokespeople declined to comment Tuesday evening.
Orrick’s ruling last week limited enforcement of Trump’s order. The judge said existing grants — federal funding for law enforcement — could only be affected under only one law on the sanctuary city issue: a U.S. code section that bars localities from interfering with communications with federal officials.
In an initial statement, the Justice Department highlighted the limited scope of Orrick’s order and that enforcement of that section, 8 U.S.C. § 1373, could continue.
However, later that night, the White House Office of the Press Secretary issued a combative statement blasting the judge for “egregious overreach.” The next morning, Trump tweeted that the issue would be taken to the Supreme Court.
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One issue that wasn’t squarely addressed by the judge in his injunction ruling: a claim by San Francisco that the key legal provision — Section 1373 — is itself unconstitutional. That could be a key focus as the litigation goes forward in the district court.
Orrick set trial in the cases for next April, giving the parties nearly a year to do whatever discovery or fact-gathering they want to do.
Josh Gerstein is a senior reporter for POLITICO.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com