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DOJ Appeals Judge’s Ruling Against Sanctuary City Order

Dec. 4, 2018, 11:31 AM

The U.S. Justice Department is appealing a federal judge’s ruling against a DOJ initiative that withholds grants from jurisdictions that refuse to share the citizenship or immigration status of individuals who come into contact with local law enforcement.

The DOJ’s conditions on these sanctuary cities went beyond its authority under the federal Justice Assistance Grants and Community Oriented Policing Services spending laws, Judge William H. Orrick of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California held in October. The DOJ usurped Congress’ role in determining how to disburse federal funds, in violation of separation of powers principles and the U.S. Constitution’s Spending Clause, he said.

The DOJ filed a notice Dec. 3 that it plans to appeal Orrick’s ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions informed jurisdictions in May 2017 that the DOJ might withhold funds from sanctuary cities. His memo carried out an executive order from President Donald Trump titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld a ruling against the DOJ policy with respect to the city of Chicago. A ruling against the policy with respect to the city of Philadelphia is on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

The case is City and County of San Francisco v. Whitaker, N.D. Cal., No. 3:17-cv-04642, notice of appeal 12/3/18

To contact the reporter on this story: Jon Steingart in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at