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The doctrine of intergovernmental immunity is derived from the Supremacy Clause, U.S. Const., art. VI, which mandates that the activities of the Federal Government are free from regulation by any state. Accordingly, state laws are invalid if they regulate the United States directly or discriminate against the Federal Government or those with whom it deals.
The United States challenged three California laws: AB 450, which required employers to alert employees before federal immigration inspections; AB 103, which imposed inspection requirements on facilities that house civil immigration detainees; and SB 54, which limited the cooperation between state and local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. The United States sought a preliminary injunction, arguing that these laws violated the doctrine of intergovernmental immunity and the doctrine of conflict preemption. The district court concluded that the United States was unlikely to succeed on the merits of many of its claims, and so denied in large part the motion for preliminary injunction.
Were the challenged laws unlawful, thereby warranting the grant of the United States’ motion for preliminary injunction?
Yes, but only insofar as AB 103, Cal. Gov't Code § 12532(b)(1)(C) was concerned.
The Court affirmed in part, and reversed in part the district court’s decision. With respect to AB 450, which required employers to alert employees before federal immigration inspections, the Court affirmed the district court's denial of a preliminary injunction. The Court rejected the United States' contention that the provisions were invalid under the doctrine of intergovernmental immunity and the doctrine of conflict preemption, concluding that 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. AB 103, Cal. Gov't Code § 12532(b)(1)(C), requiring inspection of detention facilities was unlawful under the doctrine of intergovernmental immunity because it discriminated against and impermissibly burdened the federal government. With respect to SB 54, the Court affirmed the district court's denial of a preliminary injunction, holding that any obstruction caused by SB 54 did not directly conflict with federal statutes because federal law did not actually mandate any state action, and the provision was consistent with California's prerogatives under the Tenth Amendment and the anticommandeering rule.