DOJ Unlikely to Seek Stay of Sanctuary-City Injunction

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The federal government doesn’t expect to seek a stay of last week’s ruling temporarily blocking President Donald Trump’s executive order on sanctuary city funding, but will not shut the door on that option either, a Justice Department lawyer said Tuesday.

Santa Clara County, San Francisco and the Bay Area city of Richmond refused to give the Justice Department more time to file motions to dismiss their lawsuits unless it promised not to ask a higher court to place the injunction on hold.

“We don’t contemplate seeking a stay, but can’t just slam the door completely forever,” Justice Department attorney W. Scott Simpon said at a case management conference Tuesday.

Last week, U.S. District Judge William Orrick III issued an injunction barring Trump and the federal government from withholding funds from local jurisdictions that refuse to help federal authorities detain and deport undocumented immigrants.

During Tuesday’s conference, Orrick convinced the parties to reach a compromise allowing the Justice Department to file motions to dismiss in early June on the condition that it vows not to “use the failure to have the pleadings resolved as an argument in favor of getting a stay.”

San Francisco Deputy City Attorney Mollie Lee said the city has no qualms extending the deadline so long as the preliminary injunction stays in place and the city’s federal funding is not jeopardized.

Insisting the case should move forward without delay, the judge rejected the Justice Department’s request to stay discovery until after its motions to dismiss are resolved.

“I’d like to see this case move,” Orrick said. “I think it deserves to move.”

Orrick set a deadline for all fact discovery to be done by late October and scheduled a tentative trial date of April 23, 2018.

He added that he is unlikely to grant the ACLU of Northern California’s motion to intervene in the case, given that “the issues are well fleshed out by the parties and the many friends of the court” who filed amicus briefs before the last hearing.

In his ruling last week, Orrick wrote that public comments made by Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions “erased” all doubt about the scope of the Jan. 25 executive order, despite assurances from Justice Department lawyers that the directive only authorizes withholding a small pot of grant money from local governments deemed sanctuary jurisdictions.

Trump denounced Orrick’s ruling in an April 26 tweet, in which the president appeared to mistakenly suggest that Orrick is a Ninth Circuit judge rather than a judge in the Northern District of California federal court.

Trump tweeted: “First the Ninth Circuit rules against the ban & now it hits again on sanctuary cities-both ridiculous rulings. See you in the Supreme Court!”

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