The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has by-and-large proven to be a stumbling block in the way of President Donald Trump’s agenda — but his administration just emerged with a surprising victory from the historically liberal appeals court.
A three-judge panel from the Ninth Circuit ruled 2-1 on Friday to allow the Department of Justice (DOJ) to withhold certain federal grant funds from jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with federal law enforcement on illegal immigration matters, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Los Angeles takes on the DOJ
The Washington Examiner reported that in 2017, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions implemented a new scoring system at the DOJ for the allocation of grant funds under the Community-Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program.
His system awarded extra points to jurisdictions that chose “illegal immigration” as a key focus — among a dozen areas to choose from — as well as for the submission of a certification of cooperation with federal authorities on the issue, which involved allowing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to access detention facilities and giving DHS sufficient notice prior to the release of criminal illegal aliens.
For its part, Los Angeles, an established sanctuary city that refuses to cooperate with regard to illegal immigration enforcement, applied for a COPS grant — but predictably, it did not receive any funding. The city then filed a lawsuit claiming the DOJ had attempted to “coerce” its cooperation, violating the statutory “spending clause” and acting in an “arbitrary and capricious manner” by implementing the new scoring system that favored certain jurisdictions over others.
A district court judge in Los Angeles agreed with the city and imposed an injunction against the DOJ and its grant program. But two of the three judges on the Ninth Circuit disagreed, and overturned the lower court’s ruling.
Judge Sandra Ikuta, who wrote the court’s majority opinion, explained: “[The] DOJ’s use of the two scoring factors is well within its statutory discretion, is not arbitrary and capricious, and complies with the constitutional restrictions imposed on congressional action under principles of federalism and the Spending Clause.”
A victory for Trump
In response to the court’s ruling, new White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham released a statement applauding the Ninth Circuit for agreeing “that the Department of Justice can prioritize Federal discretionary grant dollars to support policing in cities and towns that cooperate with Federal efforts to remove illegal aliens from the country.” She continued:
This ruling reverses a lawless decision that enabled Sanctuary City policies, putting the safety and security of all Americans in harm’s way.
Sanctuary Cities knowingly release criminal aliens out of their jails and back into our communities, instead of cooperating with ICE to ensure they are kept in custody and safely removed from the United States.
Grisham also pointed out that sanctuary city policies have led to American citizens being “injured, maimed, or killed” by illegal aliens.
“This ruling upholds the right of the Department of Justice to ensure discretionary grants under its control are not being used to subsidize these jurisdictions’ open assault on law-abiding Americans and their loved ones,” she said.
Indeed, this ruling marks a huge victory for President Trump and his goal of reducing the number of criminal illegal aliens in this country.
Thanks to the Ninth Circuit, Trump’s DOJ can continue to withhold funds from jurisdictions that provide sanctuary for violent criminals who prey on innocent Americans.