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County of Santa Clara Wins Nationwide Injunction of Trump’s Executive Order Defunding “Sanctuary Jurisdictions”

Press Release
4/25/2017

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CA — In a historic ruling issued today, U.S. District Court Judge William H. Orrick granted the County of Santa Clara’s request to temporarily enjoin President Trump and his administration from enforcing an Executive Order provision that would withdraw all federal funding from the County and jurisdictions across the country deemed “sanctuary jurisdictions.” Lawyers from the County Counsel’s Office and its outside counsel, Keker, Van Nest & Peters LLP, argued the case before Judge Orrick on Friday, April 14.

The County of Santa Clara was the first jurisdiction in the nation to seek emergency relief based on the immediate harms and unconstitutional coercion caused by Executive Order 13763, which the President issued on January 25, 2017. The City and County of San Francisco subsequently sought a similar injunction.

“Today’s decision is a historic affirmation of the U.S. Constitution’s core principles—that the President cannot usurp powers not given to him, and that the federal government cannot use federal defunding to coerce local governments into becoming federal immigration enforcers,” said County Counsel James R. Williams. “The injunction means that the County of Santa Clara—and jurisdictions across the country—can return to budgeting and planning for the fiscal year without the unconstitutional threat of federal defunding hanging over our heads.”

Judge Orrick’s decision means that the Trump Administration cannot implement or enforce the executive order anywhere in the United States.

“We are extremely gratified by the Court’s ruling,” said Cody S. Harris, a Partner at Keker, Van Nest & Peters. “During the hearing, the federal government offered a new interpretation of the Executive Order, arguing that it applied only to a sliver of federal funds. While that concession was welcome, it contradicted the Executive Order’s plain language and everything the President and his aides have said about it over the past several months. Unsurprisingly, the Court rejected this eleventh-hour attempt to rewrite the Order, and enjoined the Order the President actually issued.”

The County of Santa Clara received the support of more than 240 individuals, organizations, businesses, and governments from across the country, with all fifteen amicus briefs in the case filed on the County’s behalf. Amici included the State of California; cities, counties, sheriffs and police chiefs from around the United States; school districts representing over one million California students; civil and immigrant’s rights groups; unions; law scholars, non-profit service providers, and technology companies.

The County’s lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the Executive Order, arguing that it violates the separation of powers, the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, and the Tenth Amendment. The district court decision and the County’s filings can be found here.

The federal government must now decide whether to appeal Judge Orrick’s ruling in the Ninth Circuit. If they do, Keker, Van Nest & Peters and the County will vigorously defend the injunction.