Court Limits Sanctuary City Funding Order to Chicago

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Teresa Crawford/AP

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit Tuesday temporarily limited the scope of an injunction forcing the Justice Department to keep dispersing funds to so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions to just the City of Chicago.

A three-judge panel of the same court sided with Rahm Emmanuel and the City of Chicago in April, upholding an injunction preventing Attorney General Jeff Sessions from implementing his plan to withhold his department’s law enforcement grants from cities, counties, and states with policies designed to deliberately frustrate federal immigration enforcement. That injunction, first issued by Ronald Reagan-appointed Judge Harry Leinenweber, applied nationwide, stopping the withdrawal of funds in places far away from Chicago, which has enlisted top-tier law firm WilmerHale to ensure they do not lose millions of dollars in federal funds over long-standing “welcoming city” policies.

The Justice Department (DOJ) is asking the entire body of the Seventh Circuit to reconsider their colleagues’ April ruling on the injunction. As an opening matter, DOJ requested the nationwide injunction — something that, before Donald Trump became president, was seen as an extraordinary measure — be temporarily stayed while the entire court hears arguments as to the injunction’s fate.

On Tuesday, the court voted to grant that request, allowing DOJ to proceed with its effort to rein in funding for sanctuary cities elsewhere, while they consider a final ruling on that injunction which, in turn, is in place while the case in Chicago is decided on its merits.

The Justice Department quickly weighed on in this small victory in a legal battle that is sure to drag on for many more months. a Department of Justice spokesman said in a statement:

Nationwide injunctions allow a single federal district judge to set policy by ordering relief outside the scope of the particular case, and many in the legal community have expressed concern that the use of nationwide injunctions is inconsistent with the separation of powers, and that their increased use creates a dangerous precedent. We will continue to fight to carry out the Department’s commitment to the rule of law, protecting public safety, and keeping criminal aliens off the streets to further perpetrate crimes. The Justice Department will work to release Byrne JAG funds to cooperating jurisdictions in an expeditious manner.

Given the controversy surrounding the case, it is seen by some commentators, including Breitbart News Legal Editor Ken Klukowski, as likely to end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case is Chicago v. Sessions, No. 17-2991 in the Seventh Circuit.

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