Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Blogger Candidate Forum: This Is What Winning Looks Like

Former FBI Director James Comey
Hello Everyone:

It is time for the latest edition of Blogger Candidate Forum.  The last 24 hours have been eventful, have they not?  Yours truly is referring to seemingly sudden dismissal of Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey by President Donald Trump. Former director Comey's firing comes days after the FBI asked for additional funds for the agency's ongoing investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.  This also comes not long after POTUS praised Mr. Comey for the way he handled the Clinton email scandal.  POTUS's reason for dismissing Mr. Comey was the way the former director handled the Clinton investigation and the agency lost confidence in Mr. Comey, thus unable to lead the bureau effectively.  Are any of you buying this?  Blogger does not think so.  The whole thing reeks of feces.  Over the last 24 hours, the i-word (impeachment) has been uttered frequently and loudly as has the call for a special prosecutor.  This has real potential to backfire on POTUS bigly and badly.  A special prosecutor is going to be necessary because whoever is appointed to replace Mr. Comey cannot maintain any form objectivity because he or she will be beholden to President Trump.  What will happen next?  Who knows?  Now on to today's topic.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera responds to a federal judge's order
Photograph by Eric Risberg/AP
Today we return to the subject of sanctuary cities.  Recently, federal Judge William Orrick recently blocked POTUS's ill-conceived executive order that sought to withhold federal funds from self-proclaimed sanctuary cities: cities that curtail cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in some form or fashion.  Tanvi Misra writes in her CityLab article "Sanctuary Cities Are Winning," "In essence, U.S. District Judge William Orrick of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that the executive order is overtly broad and constitutionally fraught."

César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, associate professor at the University Denver's Sturm College of Law, told CityLab

The bottom line is that the federal court has dealt a major setback to President Trump's attack on sanctuary cities...I imagine that the federal government will appeal but, for now, the Trump Administration cannot go forward with its hope of punishing cities and counties for limiting their cooperation wit ICE.

Rep Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) speaking against the "anti-sanctuary cities" bill
Photograph by Eric Gay/AP
Just last week, Texas Governor Greg Abbot signed a law banning sanctuary cities and threatening civic officials with jail time if they did not comply. (; date accessed May 10, 2017) The new law signaled Texas's hard conservative tack.  The state's legislative body was drifting further right.  Its historic relationship with the Latino residents was thrown into flux.  Texas is a state with the second-largest Latino population in the nation.  The new law threatens law enforcement officials with jail time and termination if they do not cooperation with federal immigration authorities.  It also permits police officers, including university police, to question the immigration status of any person they had detained or arrested, including routine traffic stops.  (Ibid)  The point here is that the Trump campaign emboldened an extremely hard stance toward anyone with a Spanish surname, regardless of citizenship status.  Also, it is an indication of the random nature of the way that ill-conceived executive order was put forth.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer
Photograph by Andrew Harnik/AP
The controversial executive order was based on federal statue-U.S. Code 1373-"that forbids local governments from withholding information about immigration status of an individual from federal authorities."  San Francisco Dennis Herrera filed a lawsuit right after he signed it, citing, "that the 10th Amendment limits the power of the federal government to 'commandeer' states and localities-a claim backed up by many legal experts."  Neighboring Santa Clara County followed.

The decision rendered by Judge Orrick affirms the jurisdictions case that the executive order is tantamount to a loaded gun pointed at their heads.  The decision reads,

..[it] threatens to deny sanctuary jurisdictions all federal grants, hundred of million of  dollars on which the Counties rely...The threat is unconstitutionally coercive.

The ruling also questions the limits of the president's control of the federal purse strings:

The Constitution vests the spending powers in Congress, not the President, so the order cannot constitutionally place new conditions on federal funds...

POTUS holding up the Executive Order
Photograph by Pablo Martinez Monsivals/The Associated Press

While POTUS and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have publicly expounded on punishing sanctuary cities by withholding billions of dollars in federal grants, however during the hearing, the administrations lawyers tried to argue a more narrow interpretation.  The lawyers argued that "it would only apply only to a limited number of Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice grants."  Judge Orrick, in his infinite wisdom, dismissed this argument. He wrote that the lawyers interpretations renders the Order toothless, and very different from thewording  President Trump signed off on.  Vanderbilt University immigration scholar Peter Mancina elaborated in a series of tweets:

...For starters, this is big.  He is saying that the fed's lawyer's interpretation of the EO being narrow is too far from the text of the EO p14...

...I guess what I'm saying is that the judge is all out rejecting the fed attorney's contention that the EO is narrow & only applies to DOJ/DHS...

...Also he cites Trump's statements that sanctuary city defending was a "weapon"-Trump's words coming back to haunt him.. (p23)....

...This amounts to the judge calling bullshit on the US attorneys.  It not a narrow EO-it's a broad, vindictive, intentionally coercive EO...

Seattle Mayor Mike Murray announcing a lawsuit against the Trump administration
Photograph by Mike Mill McKnight/Cascade Public Media
Judge William Orrick's decision comes just days after AG Sessions sent out letters to nine cities, requesting proof on their compliance with U.S.C. 1373.   Tanvi Misra writes, "One of San Francisco's arguments was that this statute itself is unconstitutional, but the judge didn't address that specifically."  While, yes, technically the federal government and strip funds, they cannot do so in the haphazard manner as stated in the order, at the caprice of the president.  Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason, explained in The Washington Post,

In this case, none of the federal grants given to sanctuary cities were conditioned by Congress on compliance wtth Section 1373 or any other form of cooperation with federal efforts to deport undocumented immigrants.  The president cannot impose such conditions on his own... (; date accessed May 10, 2017)

This order, the equally odious one banning the entry of nationals from six Muslim majority countries and pausing the entry of refugees, share a key trait" "They're both unable to veil the administrations's legally dubious intentions in court."  Legally dubious intentions would not be the phrase Blogger would use: more like morally repugnant intentions.  This is why, for municipalities opposing President Donald Trump on immigration, the first 100 days have led to a series of victories.  Based on Judge Orrick's reading, "their case is good enough that they're likely to retain that winning streak."  That, is what winning looks like.

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