No En Banc Rehearing in White House Fight of California Sanctuary Laws

(AP Photo/Haven Daley, File)

(CN) – The Ninth Circuit denied the Trump administration’s request Tuesday for an en banc rehearing of its challenge to a series of new California immigrant-friendly laws.

The federal government had hoped to rehash its arguments against the so-called “sanctuary laws” in front of the full court, after a three-judge panel largely ruled in California’s favor in April. The same panel denied the Trump administration’s en banc petition Tuesday, adding that none of the other Ninth Circuit judges requested to vote on the decision.

The Department of Justice is fighting the signature piece of a sweeping package of bills passed in 2017 that increased protections for undocumented immigrants.

Known as the Sanctuary State law, Senate Bill 54 prohibits state and local law enforcement from cooperating with immigration agents without a court order and creates safe zones around schools, courts and hospitals. In its lawsuit filed in March 2018, the Trump administration also challenged a law which bars employers from releasing the immigration status of their employees and legislation allowing state inspections of federal detention facilities operating in California.

The lawsuit claimed the trio of laws “obstructs” and “impedes” federal immigration agents and violate the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

California won the first round in July 2018 when U.S. District Judge John Mendez dismissed the heart of the lawsuit. The Trump administration quickly appealed to the Ninth Circuit, where it suffered another defeat from a panel consisting of George W. Bush and Barack Obama appointees.

“The district court did not abuse its discretion when it concluded that AB 450’s employee-notice provisions neither burden the federal government nor conflict with federal activities, and that any obstruction caused by SB 54 is consistent with California’s prerogatives under the 10th Amendment and the anticommandeering rule,” U.S. Circuit Judge Milan Smith wrote for the panel.

The U.S. Department of Justice did not respond to a media request regarding Tuesday’s order and whether it will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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