A California federal judge on Monday permanently blocked the enforcement of an executive order issued by President Donald Trump in January that calls for withholding federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities, saying it violates various provisions of the U.S. Constitution.
In an order issued in two cases brought against the Trump administration by the city and county of San Francisco and by Santa Clara County, U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick cited comments made by Trump that he intended to use defunding as a “weapon,” as well as comments made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions confirming the federal government’s intent to enforce the defunding provisions of the Jan. 25 executive order. As such, he rejected the administration’s contention that the counties’ claims aren’t justiciable on the ground that the executive order doesn’t affect them directly.
In addition to finding that the counties have sufficiently shown they risk losing funds, that the budgetary uncertainty caused by the executive order has caused them “real and tangible harms,” and that the executive order isn’t an “internal directive” as portrayed by the administration, Judge Orrick ruled that the executive order is unconstitutional and issued a permanent injunction.
Cody S. Harris, a partner at Keker Van Nest & Peters LLP and an attorney for Santa Clara, said the ruling “vindicates important constitutional principles” in a press release issued by the firm, which noted that Santa Clara had risked losing about $1.7 billion in funds.
“An executive order that so flagrantly violates the constitution cannot stand. Indeed, during the hearing, the federal government gave up on any attempt to defend the executive order as written,” Harris said. “It was the court’s duty to strike down the order, and we are extremely gratified that it did so.”
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