Court Rules Trump Sanctuary City Order Unconstitutional

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY NEWS)

 

Federal appeals court rules Trump sanctuary city order unconstitutional

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A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that President Donald Trump exceeded his authority when he threatened to withhold funds from “sanctuary cities” that do not fully cooperate with U.S. immigration authorities.

In a 2-1 decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said Trump’s January 2017 executive order, cutting off federal funds to sanctuary cities, was unconstitutional. But the court also ruled that a lower court went too far when it blocked the order nationwide.

“Absent congressional authorization, the administration may not redistribute or withhold properly appropriated funds in order to effectuate its own policy goals,” Chief Judge Sidney Thomas wrote for the majority.

Our view: Both sides mischaracterize sanctuary cities

Oakland: Why we’re a sanctuary city

Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley said the executive order was a legal use of the president’s power. He called the 9th Circuit’s decision a victory for “criminal aliens in California, who can continue to commit crimes knowing that the state’s leadership will protect them from federal immigration officers whose job it is to hold them accountable and remove them from the country.”

“The Justice Department remains committed to the rule of law, to protecting public safety, and to keeping criminal aliens off the streets,” he said.

Trump signed the executive order on Jan. 25, 2017, just five days after taking office, calling undocumented immigration a “clear and present danger” to national security. But U.S. District Judge William Orrick called the threat “coercive” and said spending powers belonged to the legislative, not executive, branch of government.

Orrick’s ruling was the result of lawsuits filed by two California counties – San Francisco and Santa Clara. His decision cited statements from Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, which indicated that the order could jeopardize hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds. The government argued that the order only applied to three Justice Department and Homeland Security grants that would affect less than $1 million for Santa Clara and possibly no money for San Francisco.

Justice Department attorney Chad Readler told the 9th Circuit judges that the order was limited in scope and that public statements from Trump or other administration officials should not be given too much weight.

“When a president overreaches and tries to assert authority he doesn’t have under the Constitution, there needs to be a check on that power grab,” San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement Wednesday. “The courts did that today, which is exactly what the framers of the Constitution had in mind.”

The administration’s fight against sanctuary cities also suffered a setback last week, when a federal judge denied a motion to dismiss the city of Chicago’s lawsuit over Sessions’ efforts to force cooperation with federal immigration enforcement officers.

In September, U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber issued an injunction against Sessions’ order that required police to cooperate with federal agents or risk losing federal law enforcement grants. Session wanted to require local police to tell the government before releasing undocumented immigrants from custody, to allow federal immigration agents into city jails and to share people’s immigration status with federal officials.

Leinenweber’s injunction was initially nationwide, but in June the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals restricted it to Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. The full appeals court will decide whether or not that injunction should be nationwide in September.

Contributing: Alan Gomez, Aamer Madhani, Richard Wolf,USA TODAY Network; The Associated Press 

More: Appeals court deals another blow to Trump effort to withhold funds from sanctuary cities

U.N. General Assembly Votes Against Trump-Israel On Jerusalem Issue

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY)

 

The United Nations General Assembly moved Thursday to repudiate President Trump’s controversial declaration recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Trump threatened to withhold aid to countries that vote for the resolution.

The measure, drafted by U.S. ally Egypt, urges nations to support U.N. resolutions dating to 1967 when Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan, that call for Jerusalem’s status to be decided through negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

Israel says a united Jerusalem will remain its capital, while Palestinians want it to cede East Jerusalem as the capital of a future, independent Palestinian state. Only a handful of countries recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, while most others maintain embassies in Tel Aviv.

The resolution says “that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council.”

Trump warned Wednesday that the vote could impact “billions of dollars” in U.S. aid.

“Let them vote against us, we’ll save a lot,” Trump said. “We don’t care. This isn’t like it used to be where they could vote against you and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars and nobody knows what they’re doing.”

Americans are “tired of being taken advantage of” at the U.N. “and we’re not going to be taken advantage of any longer,” Trump said.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Trump for threatening to cut off U.S. funding to countries that oppose his decision. “Mr Trump, you cannot buy Turkey’s democratic will with your dollars. Our decision is clear,” Erdogan said at a cultural awards ceremony in Ankara on Thursday.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley threatened the 193 U.N. member states and the United Nations with funding cuts if the assembly approves the draft resolution rejecting the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. She said Wednesday that “no vote in the United Nations will make any difference” on the U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem, which will go ahead because “it is the right thing to do.”

“We will remember it when we are called upon once again to make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations,” Haley said. “And we will remember when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”

Haley also threatened Tuesday to “take names” of countries that vote in favor of the measure.

At the UN we’re always asked to do more & give more. So, when we make a decision, at the will of the American ppl, abt where to locate OUR embassy, we don’t expect those we’ve helped to target us. On Thurs there’ll be a vote criticizing our choice. The US will be taking names.

Trump’s Dec. 6 announcement also said the State Department had been ordered to begin the years-long process of moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. Trump said the decision, following a law passed by Congress in 1998, does not impact the borders of Jerusalem, but reflected the reality that Israel considers the city its capital.

His announcement was widely condemned in capitals around the world, and provoked deadly protests in the Middle East.

More: U.S. vetoes U.N. resolution on Jerusalem

More: Jerusalem Palestinians still seek Israeli citizenship despite Trump declaration

More: Trump’s Jerusalem plan signals to Palestinians — the less you give up, the more you lose

Thursday’s vote at an emergency meeting of the General Assembly comes after the U.S. vetoed the same measure in the Security Council on Monday.

The remaining 14 Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution, including key U.S. allies such as Italy, Japan, Britain, France and Ukraine.

While the five permanent members of the Security Council — the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China — had veto power in the first vote, there are no vetoes at the General Assembly.

The General Assembly vote expresses widespread disapproval, however, it has little or not practical impact.

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International Olympic Committee Suspends Russia From 2018 Games

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY NEWS)

 

LAUSANNE, Switzerland – Russians won’t compete in the Pyeongchang Olympics under their own flag, if they compete at all, following a decision from the International Olympic Committee on Tuesday.

The IOC’s executive board announced that it has suspended the Russian Olympic Committee, a move that effectively bans the country almost two months before the opening of the Games, but created a path for individuals to compete as neutral athletes.

Those athletes will be designated as “Olympic Athletes from Russia,” and wear a uniform with that designation. They will compete under the Olympic flag and the Olympic anthem will play at any ceremony.

“As an athlete myself, I am feeling very sorry for all the clean athletes from all (National Olympic Committees) who are suffering from this manipulation,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.

He continued, “This decision should draw a line under this damaging episode and serve as a catalyst for a more effective and more robust anti-doping system led by WADA.”

The decision marked the first such sanction by the IOC for doping.

Watch: Live stream: IOC announces decision on sanctions against Russia

Related: Russia’s repeated denials on doping fit Putin’s narrative, experts say

The IOC’s executive board reached the decision after receiving a report from a commission chaired by Samuel Schmid, which confirmed “the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia” during the Sochi Olympics.

“We have never seen any such manipulation and cheating and this has caused unprecedented damage to Olympism and to sports,” Schmid said.

The IOC’s decision also included the following sanctions:

  • The “Olympic Athletes from Russia” will be determined by a panel chaired by Valerie Fourneyron, the chair of the Independent Testing Authority that was recently established. It’s unclear when that panel will issue decisions on who is eligible to compete, but the IOC criteria require that those athletes in consideration must have undergone all pre-Games testing recommended by a taskforce advising anti-doping efforts before Pyeongchang.
  • The criteria also include that athletes must not have been disqualified or declared ineligible for a previous anti-doping rule violation, a provision that seems unlikely to withstand appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The IOC attempted to enforce the same criteria before Rio, but a CAS panel struck it down as inconsistent with a prior ruling.
  • Vitaly Mutko, the then Minister of Sport, and Yuri Nagornykh, his deputy, were excluded from the Games for their roles.
  • ROC President Alexander Zhukov was suspended as an IOC member.
  • The ROC will reimburse the IOC for costs of the investigations and it will contribute $15 million to the establishment of the Independent Testing Authority.
  • Additionally, Bach said the IOC would attempt to organize ceremonies in Pyeongchang for the reallocation of medals from Sochi “to try to make up for the moments they have missed from the finish line or on the podium.”

It’s unclear whether any Russian athletes will compete as the country’s officials have said it would boycott if the IOC adopted such a decision. Should Russia boycott the decision, it would mark the first time it has missed the Olympics since boycotting in 1984.

“First of all, an Olympic boycott has never achieved anything,” said Bach, a gold medalist in 1976 in fencing who could not defend his title in 1980 because East Germany boycotted.

“Secondly, I don’t see any reason there for a boycott by the Russian athletes because we allowed the clean Russian athletes there to participate and to show that there are clean athletes in Russia. And in this way, we think that these clean Russian athletes can be more about building a bridge into the future of a cleaner sport than erecting a new wall between Russia and the Olympic movement.”

The collective action comes as an IOC commission has disqualified 25 Russian athletes from Sochi, resulting in the loss of 11 medals.

That commission, chaired by IOC member Denis Oswald, was tasked with handling individual cases.

But in the first reasoned decision released by the Oswald Commission, it accepted the findings in a report from Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren. His report last year that revealed state-sponsored doping in Russia that included sample tampering during the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

McLaren’s report showed more than 1,000 Russian athletes were involved in a broader system to dope athletes and cover up positive tests.

That Oswald Commission called the Russian doping system “one of the worst ever blows against the integrity and reputation of the Olympic Games.”

Ultimately, the IOC’s acceptance of the evidence that Russian had run the system led it to a different decision than it reached last year when it sought to balance collective responsibility with individual justice.

Before Rio, the IOC opted not to ban Russia. Instead, it gave criteria about the eligibility of athletes and left the decisions to the international federations that govern each sport. Those decisions were reviewed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and a majority of the Russia delegation ended up competing.

“At the time of Rio, we have not the opportunity to follow due process,” Bach said.

“At the time of Rio, it was furthermore, mainly about the failure in the Moscow laboratory. Now it’s about the manipulation in an Olympic laboratory in Sochi.”

While hewing to the right of clean athletes to compete, Tuesday’s decision placed the collective responsibility on the Russian system.

The IOC’s decision is one that had been supported by more than three dozen anti-doping organizations, including the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

“Over the past three years, a high stakes game of chicken has been played between those willing to sacrifice the Olympic ideals by employing a state-directed doping program to cheat to win and, on the other side, athletes unwilling to stand silent while their hopes and dreams were stolen and the Olympic Games hijacked,” USADA CEO Travis Tygart said in a statement. “Today the IOC listened to those who matter most – and clean athletes won a significant victory.

“While it is a sad day for the damage done to universal inclusion the Games represent, today’s decision recognizes the power of clean athletes and the principle of fair play. We will continue to stand with clean athletes in demanding justice and reform to the global anti-doping system to ensure this type of intentional state-supported fraud is never allowed to happen again.”

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