Note: this piece was originally published on Reason, and was written by Checks & Balances member Ilya Somin.
In a surprising decision issued earlier today, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled for the Trump administration in a case challenging one of its policies attempting to pressure sanctuary jurisdictions into cooperating with federal immigration enforcement policies. The ruling goes against previous decisions by the Third, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits, all striking down this very same policy as unconstitutional, in rulings issued by both liberal and conservative judges. Ditto for all the numerous federal trial judges who have considered the issue up to this point. If this decision stands, it would set a dangerous precedent allowing the executive to usurp Congress’ power over federal spending, and impose its own conditions on federal grants in order to bully state and local governments into submission on a wide range of issues.
The case, brought by the City of New York and seven state governments, involves the Trump Justice Department’s attempts to impose immigration-related conditions on state and local governments that receive Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants intended to aid law enforcement operations.