California's 'sanctuary' cities rules stay in place after Supreme Court rejects Trump's challenge
The Supreme Court refused to hear the Trump administration's appeal against a California "protected area" law on Monday, leaving open rules that prohibit law enforcement officers from helping federal agents imprison immigrants when they are out of prison be dismissed.
Only judges Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. approved the government's appeal.
The court's lawsuit is a great victory for California in its longstanding struggle against President Trump.
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It was about a conflict between federal power and the rights of the states.
The Trump administration's challenge was launched by the former Atty. Gene. Jeff Sessions. He insisted that California be unconstitutional in enforcing federal immigration regulations. However, the Supreme Court ruled in a decision by the late judge Antonin Scalia that state and local officials are not required to carry out federal enforcement. The legal doctrine of this state seems to have prevailed. Even Trump's two appointed people - judges Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh - refused to hear the government's appeal.
The court also refused to hear several cases related to gun rights and police immunity. For the time being, the judges do not appear to be willing to rethink previous decisions that gave states sufficient powers to regulate weapons and protect the police from lawsuits.
Gun rights advocates were confident that the judges would be willing to give them the opportunity to carry arms in public. So far, the majority of the court has given government and local officials considerable latitude in deciding who can get permission to carry a hidden weapon.
Gun owners in California have to prove that they have "good reason" to carry a gun, and law enforcement officials in Los Angeles, San Francisco and other urban areas do not issue many such permits.
The court was also under pressure to rethink the "qualified immunity" that protects the police from many excessive violence lawsuits. However, Congress is also trying to rethink this doctrine as part of comprehensive police reform legislation. And at the moment, the judges don't seem to be ready to deal with the issue again.
When contesting the California Protection Act, Trump's lawyers said the federal government had exclusive authority over immigrants and said the state was preventing the federal government from enforcing the law.
"Foreigners are present and are only allowed to stay in the United States, as provided for under the auspices of the federal immigration law," said Attorney General Noel Francisco in his appeal. "It is therefore the United States, not California, that 'retain the right' to determine the conditions under which foreigners may be arrested, released and removed in that country. As a result of SB 54, criminal foreigners have evaded detention and removal, which Congress has mandated and has instead returned to the civilian population, where they are disproportionately likely to commit additional crimes. "
In response, California's lawyers argued that the 10th amendment to the constitution clarifies that government officials are not required to enforce federal law. They relied in part on a statement by the late judge Antonin Scalia in 1997 that federal agencies should not "command" state or local officials to implement federal law. In this case, Printz v. The United States, the Supreme Court said local sheriffs could not be required to perform background checks on small arms buyers.
The same principle applies to the enforcement of the federal immigration law, California Atty said. General Xavier Becerra in defense of the law. "SB 54 regulates the use of state resources. It sets out the conditions under which state and local law enforcement agencies can use public funds and personnel to help enforce federal immigration regulations," he wrote.
California lawyers also stressed that the state works with federal agents when they have a warrant or when immigrants are detained for serious or violent crime, including prisoners who are in the state system.
The case was USA vs. California. State legislature passed the California Values Act in 2017 after the Trump administration stepped up enforcement against illegal immigrants. State lawmakers expressed concern that "local involvement in the enforcement of federal immigration laws jeopardizes trust between the California immigrant community and state and local law enforcement agencies." If so, immigrants will be "afraid to approach the police if they are victims of crime and witness to crime that threatens public safety for all Californians," said state lawyers.
The Trump administration, headed by Sessions, filed a lawsuit against California to invalidate state law. But a federal judge in Sacramento and the 9th Court of Appeals in San Francisco declined and ruled that state and local officials did not interfere with federal agents. "Refusing to help is not synonymous with disability," said District Judge John Mendez.
While state lawyers rely on conservative precedents that preserve state rights, Trump's lawyers rely on a liberal Supreme Court ruling in 2012 that sided with the Obama administration and much of a law of Arizona annulled that local police had authorized illegally to arrest and arrest immigrants in the country.
In Arizona against the United States, the Supreme Court then stressed that enforcement of immigration laws was a federal matter. Francisco cited this opinion, saying that the "supremacy of national power" in enforcing immigration laws "was clarified by the Constitution."
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