WASHINGTON – Federal judges are using the same strategy to skirt the law in order to protect sanctuary cites as they used to stop the president’s travel ban, according to an administration source familiar with the case.
The administration source told WND on Friday that, in both instances, the rulings were clear examples of judges making erroneous legal decisions by placing more importance on public comments than the text of the law in determining the constitutionality of President Trump’s executive orders.
Federal Judge William Orrick cited public comments when he temporarily blocked an executive order to withhold some funds for cities that do not cooperate with federal immigration law enforcement.
“If there was doubt about the scope of the order, the president and attorney general have erased it with their public comments,” the San Francisco-based judge wrote in his April 25 ruling.
Appointed to the Northern District of California court in 2013 by former President Obama, Orrick is the same federal judge who, on Friday, ordered YouTube to remove a video showing Planned Parenthood officials making gruesome comments about abortions, including dismemberment and beheadings of fetuses.
Federal judges have also used Trump’s public campaign comments as a candidate rather than relying strictly on the law to stop the president’s executive order instituting a temporary travel ban from six countries rife with terrorism.
In their unanimous Feb. 9 ruling, three federal judges on a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals noted the states of Washington and Minnesota had “offered evidence of numerous statements by the president about his intent to implement a ‘Muslim ban’ as well as evidence they claim suggests that the Executive Order was intended to be that ban.” The statements cited by the courts were made by Trump as a candidate, not as president.
And on Thursday, federal judges on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, upheld the freeze on the travel ban, citing “among other things, then-candidate Trump’s numerous campaign statements expressing animus towards the Islamic faith.”
However, as even the Washington Post noted, “The travel order itself makes no mention of religion or Muslims.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court, where the administration trusts the justices will rule based on the law rather than on sound bites from the news.
This issue of judges putting news reports above the letter of the law arose because WND contacted the Justice Department after dismayed readers expressed concern over a New York Times article on Monday titled “Sessions Narrows Trump’s Order Against Sanctuary Cities.”
A DOJ spokesman contacted Friday assured WND that the Times had misinterpreted the administration’s intentions and the DOJ was in no way lessening its crackdown on sanctuary cities.
The Times reported a two-page clarification memo from Attorney General Jeff Sessions “appeared to fall far short of Mr. Trump’s previous threats to starve all federal funding from localities that limit their cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.”
That’s because “only federal grants from the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security would be affected,” and that “Trump’s executive order on immigration, signed on Jan. 25, appeared to take a much harder line with sanctuary cities.”
The paper also reported that “since that initial threat, the administration has not moved to withhold any federal aid from sanctuary cities.”
However, based on information provided by the DOJ, the Times appeared to be misreading the situation by either not seeing, or not reporting, the bigger picture.
The DOJ spokesman said the executive order’s leverage is currently limited to withholding DOJ and DHS funds and grants to jurisdictions that don’t comply with federal law 8 U.S. Code 1373.
That law only makes it illegal for local, state or federal government officials not to communicate a person’s citizenship and/or immigration status with the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
What the Justice Department hopes to see is Congress amend 8 U.S. Code 1373 to make it illegal for government officials to refuse to cooperate with federal officials seeking to deport persons in local custody who are in the country illegally.
Even though it is currently illegal for local officials to refuse to communicate with federal officials seeking to deport illegal aliens, it is not illegal for local officials to refuse to cooperate with federal officials.
That is why, the DOJ source explained , in its budget plan announced this week, the administration has requested Congress amend the law to require local jurisdictions to honor detainer requests from federal authorities.
As for the Times contention that “the administration has not moved to withhold any federal aid from sanctuary cities,” the spokesman explained the plan to implement the executive order is ongoing and will apply both retrospectively and prospectively to jurisdictions that have or seek DOJ grants.
As the Times noted, “the Justice Department sent letters to officials in New York City, Philadelphia, New Orleans and a handful of other localities, warning them that they stood to lose some minor grants unless they could certify that they were in compliance” with the statute.
But, as the Times also reported, officials in those cities still have until June 30 to respond.