The city of Seattle announced on Wednesday its intention to sue the Trump administration for its efforts to strip sanctuary cities of federal funding. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said the executive order directing the Justice Department to withhold funds was an unconstitutional breach of federal authority.
Mayor Murray said in a press conference that the President was constitutionally forbidden from using the federal government to force cities into compliance, “yet that is exactly what the president’s order does. Once again, this new administration has decided to bully.”
The mayor insisted that by stripping Seattle of Department of Justice grants, Trump was only making life more dangerous for Seattle citizens. “Things like grants helping us with child sex trafficking are not connected to immigration,” Murray said. “It is time for cities to stand up and ask the courts to put an end to the anxiety in our cities and the chaos in our system.”
In other words, it’s time for the federal government to get out of states’ business. This is exactly what we conservatives have said for years. Conservatives are the ones wanting the government to acknowledge states’ rights. There is, however, one big hitch in all of this. The one thing the U.S Constitution gives the Federal Government power over states is in its borders, and security. That is the one thing President Trump is alleging.
The lawsuit comes only days after Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a statement threatening to pull federal funds from cities that do not cooperate with deportation efforts. The Justice Department responded to the lawsuit in a statement, correctly insisting the administration is both legally and morally correct in their position. “Failure to deport aliens who are convicted of criminal offenses makes our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on our streets,” a DOJ representative said.
Although the law is on President Trumps’ side, judges don’t seem to care what the law says these days. Every time the president’s administration has been challenged in court, the decision has gone to the plaintiffs, the travel ban being an example. Any sensible Constitutional attorney or scholar can tell you the President is firmly within his constitutional boundaries. All rulings to the contrary have been a political joke.
Trump’s threats to defund sanctuary cities, however, are on shakier ground than his travel ban because there is a legitimate “states’ rights” argument there. There is a dependency on federal funds hanging in the balance. If Seattle wins this lawsuit, it will nullify President Trump’s attempts to get those sanctuary cities to comply with ICE agents.
Who knows? Maybe the Justice Department has a really strong legal argument to make in this case, but we’re not holding our breath for a favorable judgment. Maybe President Trump should just do as President Andrew Jackson did. I heard President Trump say he was reading a book on Andrew Jackson. That is the president who did not accept the Supreme Court’s opinion as a decision. As a matter of truth and fact, neither did Abraham Lincoln, yet we don’t hear too much about that. President Abraham Lincoln famously ignored Chief Justice Roger B. Taney's order finding unconstitutional Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus rights in 1861, early in the Civil War. They were not executed until after the Supreme Court had upheld the president's power to set up the military commission.