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Another Loss for Trump and Barr: Colorado v. DOJ

April 27, 2020 (1 min read)

Colorado v. DOJ

"This case concerns the ability of Defendant the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) to attach certain immigration-related conditions to federal grant funds provided to state and local law enforcement under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (“Byrne JAG”) program. Plaintiff the State of Colorado (“Colorado” or “the State”) received Byrne JAG funding every year from the program’s inception through 2017. For the 2018 fiscal year (“FY”), however, DOJ refused to disburse these funds to Colorado after the State objected to conditions and certifications related to the enforcement of federal immigration law. Colorado filed suit, joining a host of other state and local governments that have challenged DOJ’s immigration-related grant conditions as unlawful. ... By imposing conditions on Byrne JAG grants for which it has no statutory authority, DOJ has exceeded the power carefully delegated to it by Congress to administer that program. For the reasons detailed below, I find the challenged conditions unlawful. ... Every district court that has examined the issue, as well as the First, Third, and Seventh Circuits, has rejected DOJ’s argument that it is statutorily authorized to impose the notice and access conditions. ... Additionally, several district courts have held that 8 U.S.C. §§ 1373 and 1644, and the conditions and certifications based thereon, violate the Tenth Amendment. ...  I find that 34 U.S.C. §§ 10153 and 10102 do not grant DOJ the power to condition the receipt of Byrne JAG grants on compliance with the FY 2018 immigration-related conditions. Because Congress did not authorize DOJ to impose the challenged conditions, the conditions are ultra vires and violate the separation of powers doctrine. ... In sum, the challenged conditions violate the Spending Clause as neither the statutory authority for nor the scope of the conditions is sufficiently unambiguous to enable Byrne JAG applicants “to exercise their choice knowingly, cognizant of the consequences of their participation.” ... In all, I find that the challenged conditions exceed DOJ’s statutory authority and violate the separation of powers doctrine, the Spending Clause, and the APA."