Right Hooks

Lawless Sanctuary Cities Look to the Courts

City officials vow to fight Trump's executive order.

Political Editors · Jan. 31, 2017

President Donald Trump’s recent executive order to cut off federal funding to unrepentant “sanctuary cities” may run into more than a few judicial obstacles. Several of the largest offenders such as New York City and San Francisco vow to fight the order, with Democratic San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee stating, “I believe in our sanctuary-city status, I think there are hundreds of mayors all over this country that are saying the same thing.”

The focus surrounding Trump’s executive order question its constitutionality, specifically, whether or not it violates laws against federal coercion. The federal government is barred from coercing state officials into doing the job of the federal government. Several are arguing that Trump’s recent executive order to withhold federal funding as a punitive measure against those unrepentant sanctuary cities constitutes coercion. As recently as 2012, the Supreme Court ruled against the previous administration when it tried to withhold federal funding of Medicaid from those states that refused to expand their eligibility programs in support of the (Un)Affordable Care Act. As Dale Carpenter, a constitutional professor from Southern Methodist University, states, “If the denial of Medicaid funding alone was coercive, the denial of all federal funding of any kind for refusing to cooperate in enforcement of immigration law must be coercive.”

David Rivkin a lawyer who served in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations doesn’t think it is coercive. He notes that it is the job of the federal government to enforce the law and notes instances where the court ruled in favor of the government insisting upon, “requiring state officials to assist in the enforcement of federal statutes regulating private individuals.” He continued that, “it’s not [like Trump is] telling city officials to carry out any particular actions.”

So, the nation may have to put up with these rogue sanctuary cities for quite some time, unfortunately. How ironic it is that these bastions of lawlessness display so much disdain for Rule of Law and yet seek defense in the courts. If Law applies to all but one, then it holds justice for none.

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