Law School Case Brief
City of Chi. v. Sessions - 888 F.3d 272 (7th Cir. 2018)
The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program provisions set forth the duties of the Attorney General and do not provide any open-ended authority to impose additional conditions. 34 U.S.C.S. §§ 10152-10157.
In 2006, the City of Chicago, a sanctuary city, enacted its Welcoming City ordinance and the federal government first established the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program ("Program). The Welcoming City Ordinance reflected the City's determination that, as a City in which one out of five of its residents was an immigrant, the cooperation of all persons, both documented citizens and those without documentation status, was essential to achieve the City's goals of protecting life and property, preventing crime and resolving problems. On the other hand, the Program was the primary provider of federal criminal justice funding to state and local governments. The funds were used to meet a wide range of needs for those law enforcement entities, including funding the acquisition of body cameras and police cruisers, and support for community programs aimed at reducing violence. In 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order directing defendant Jefferson Sessions, the Attorney General of the United States, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary, in their discretion and to the extent consistent with law, to ensure that sanctuary jurisdictions were not eligible to receive federal grants except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary. Shortly thereafter—in the face of the failure of Congress to pass such restrictions and the issues with the legality of the Executive Order—on July 25, 2017, the Attorney General pursued yet another path to that goal and issued the conditions for recipients of Program funds. Specifically, the Attorney General imposed "notice," "access," and "compliance" conditions on Program recipients. The conditions imposed by the Attorney General were inconsistent with the provisions in the Welcoming City Ordinance, and the City filed a lawsuit in federal district court challenging the imposition of those conditions by the Attorney General. The City alleged that the first two conditions were unlawful under the statute and unconstitutional as a violation of separation of powers principles. The district court granted the City's motion for a preliminary injunction as to the notice and access conditions. The district court noted that nothing in the Program's statute granted express authority to the Attorney General to impose the notice and access conditions, and rejected the Attorney General's claim that a provision in a different subsection, 34 U.S.C.S. § 10102, could be interpreted to allow such authority. The district court further concluded that a nationwide preliminary injunction was required to provide full relief in the case.
Did the district court properly enjoin application of the conditions sought to be imposed by the Attorney General on recipients of funds from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program?
The Supreme Court of the United States upheld the decision of the district court, finding that the Attorney General lacked the authority to impose notice and access conditions on receipt of Program grants. The Attorney General's contention that 34 U.S.C.S. § 10102(a)(6) authorized him to impose such conditions was contrary to the plain meaning of the statutory language. Furthermore, the Court concluded that a nationwide preliminary injunction was properly granted given the purely legal nature of the issue, the broad and uniform impact on all grant recipients, the minimal harm to the Attorney General given the continued ability for voluntary cooperation, and because the recipients of the grant were interconnected.
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