California Court Tosses Nationwide Ban on DOJ Cutting Police Funds in Sanctuary Cities

A U.S. appeals court in California has ruled that the Trump administration cannot legally withhold grant money from police departments in the state's cities, which are bound by "sanctuary" laws preventing local law enforcement from collaborating with federal immigration authorities.

However, in issuing the ruling on Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco also blocked a nationwide injunction applying the same decision to states across the country.

In its ruling, the appeals court upheld a decision from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California preventing the Justice Department from withholding money from its Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program—which is meant to help state and local law enforcement cover critical funding gaps—from California's sanctuary cities.

"We uphold the permanent injunction barring DOJ from withholding, terminating, or clawing back Byrne funding based on the Challenged Conditions and statutes at issue," the Monday ruling said.

However, the appeals court said the district court had "abused its discretion in granting nationwide injunctive relief," asserting that the decision should have only applied to California.

The district court's nationwide injunction, the ruling said, "was broader than warranted."

As a result, the appeals court said it would "vacate that portion of the district court's order."

As it stands, three other regional federal appeals courts have similarly ruled against allowing the Trump administration to withhold funding.

However, in New York, the policy move was allowed to push forward, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit refusing to revisit the panel decision, which came as a major victory for the Trump administration.

As Bloomberg noted on Monday, the conflicting decisions could see the issue elevated to the Supreme Court.

Last month, the Supreme Court turned down a request by the government to review the allowance of sanctuary laws in California.

The decision was heralded by local and state officials as a major victory, with San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera saying "the rule of law has carried the day once again" in a statement published online.

"We're pleased the courts have again recognized that San Francisco's sanctuary laws and policies comply with federal law," Herrera said. "These grant conditions were yet another attempt at presidential overreach, and we have put a stop to it."

While law enforcement in California may not be at risk of losing federal grant money, Monday's decision comes amid growing calls across the country for police to be defunded.

The Los Angeles City Council has voted to slash funding for the Los Angeles Police Department, with budget cuts expected to slash LAPD staffing down to less than 10,000 officers.

Newsweek has contacted the White House and the DOJ for comment.

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A hybrid police car is seen at Los Angeles Police Department headquarters on April 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. A U.S. appeals court has ruled that the Trump administration cannot withhold grant money from police departments in California's sanctuary cities. David McNew/Getty