Once again, a U.S. District Court has blocked part of one of President Donald Trump’s Executive Orders – the January 25th EO “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.”. In explaining the purpose of that EO, President Trump stated “[s]anctuary jurisdictions across the United States willfully violate Federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States. These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic.” To further that purpose, President Trump stated in Section 9(a) of the EO that these jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities “are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes. . . “ In a lawsuit filed by the cities of Santa Clara and San Francisco, California, U.S. District Court Judge William H. Orrick of the Northern District of California issued a preliminary injunction specifically blocking enforcement of Section 9(a) nationwide.

The government in defense of the EO argued that Section 9(a) had not actually done anything yet, that the President was only using the EO as a “bully pulpit” and that the cities could not show that they would be harmed. But like the various courts that ruled on the travel ban, Judge Orrick cited a list of comments made by President Trump, his advisors and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to cast doubt on the government’s argument and show that the administration planned to use the EO as a “weapon” against sanctuary cities. He found that: “[t]he order’s attempt to place new conditions on federal funds is an improper attempt to wield Congress’s exclusive spending power and is a violation of the Constitution’s separation-of-powers principles.”

This case is highly likely to find its way to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and perhaps to the Supreme Court. President Trump has already tweeted his disapproval: “First the Ninth Circuit rules against the ban & now it hits again on sanctuary cities – both ridiculous rulings. See you in the Supreme Court!”