(CN) — Breaking apart from every other U.S. circuit court, a federal appeals court that President Trump flipped last year cleared the way Monday for the Justice Department to withhold grant money from sanctuary jurisdictions.
The dissenting judges from the deeply divided court called the ruling “astonishing.”
“Until today, every single circuit judge to have considered the questions presented by this appeal has resolved them the same way,” wrote U.S. Circuit Judge Raymond Lohier, an Obama appointee. “That’s twelve judges — including one former Supreme Court justice — appointed by six different presidents, sitting in four separate circuits, representing a remarkable array of views and backgrounds, responsible for roughly forty percent of the United States population, who, when asked whether the Attorney General may impose the challenged conditions, have all said the same thing: No.”
The full Second Circuit was asked to take up the case after a three-judge panel allowed the Trump administration in February to block cities and states with policies protecting undocumented immigrants from receiving up to $385 million in justice assistance grants.
Alone in reversing that trend is the New York City-based Second Circuit, which Trump turned conservative with an appointment late last year.
On Monday, the Second Circuit was evenly divided 6-6 on whether to hold an en banc rehearing, sparking several critical dissents from the liberal wing of its 13-member bench.
“I am, frankly, astounded that my colleagues did not find this a case of exceptional importance warranting en banc review,” U.S. Circuit Judge Rosemary Pooler, a Clinton-appointee, wrote in her dissent.
U.S. Circuit Judge Michael Park, a Trump appointee who assumed his position in May last year, did not take part in the decision.
Joining the court’s mostly conservative wing, Clinton-appointee U.S. Circuit Judge Jose Cabranes struck a defensive note in his opinion.
“There is nothing ‘astonishing’ here about a disagreement among sister circuits, much less anything deserving the castigation by another colleague who asserts that our panel’s decision is ‘wrong, wrong, and wrong again,’” Cabranes wrote.
Seven states — New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, Massachusetts, Virginia and Rhode Island — and New York City sued over the restrictions in 2018, winning a ruling some 15 months ago in Manhattan ordering the Justice Department to release the funding.
After facing a setback earlier this year, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio denounced the reversal for allowing Trump to play politics with the city’s safety.
“President Trump’s latest retaliation against his hometown takes away security funding from the No. 1 terrorist target in America — all because we refuse to play by his arbitrary rules,” de Blasio said in February. “No one knows how to keep New Yorkers safe better than the men and women of the NYPD. The president is starving them of the very resources named in honor of one of New York’s Finest, Officer Eddie Byrne.”
Roughly half a year later, racial justice protests across the country has put defunding police departments on the national agenda, and de Blasio announced a plan that he claims would shave roughly a sixth of the NYPD’s $6 billion budget. Activists call de Blasio’s budget an exercise in numbers-shuffling that does not meaningfully reduce the department’s size.
Now in the position of defending the NYPD’s federal dollars, the mayor’s office did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.
This story is developing …