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Sessions Asks Supreme Court To Let Sanctuary Penalties Take Effect

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by Kevin Daley

Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked the Supreme Court on Monday to lift a lower court order barring the administration from withholding certain federal funds from sanctuary jurisdictions.

The petition does not address the merits of the dispute. Rather, it asks the justices to limit the scope of the ruling, which applies across the entire country. The Department of Justice argues the order should be confined to Chicago, the city at issue in the litigation.

“The injunction issued in this case reflects the increasingly prevalent trend of entering categorical, absent-party injunctions that bar any enforcement of federal laws or policies against any person,” the petition reads. “Such injunctions frustrate development of the law, effectively freezing in place the first ruling adverse to the government unless and until appellate courts intervene.”

Sessions has been intensely critical of the so-called “cosmic injunction” through which judges effectively strike down federal laws by issuing remedies reaching every conceivable plaintiff.

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“I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power,” Sessions told conservative radio host Mark Levin after U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson of the federal trial court in Honolulu issued a nationwide order forbidding enforcement of President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

The case was occasioned  in July 2017 when Sessions issued an order requiring all recipients of the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant to comply with federal laws mandating information-sharing with immigration officials. The order also requires recipient jurisdictions to grant federal officers access to their jails and notify the U.S. Department of Homeland Security 48 hours before individuals suspected of immigration violations are released from custody.

A number of so-called sanctuary cities challenged the order in federal courts. In September 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Harry Leinenweber entered a nationwide injunction against the government, prohibiting Sessions from implementing the policy. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Leinenweber’s decision.

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