San Francisco asked a federal judge Wednesday to block President Trump’s order threatening to strip federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities that bar police from enforcing immigration laws.
This suit has a good chance of succeeding. In 1987’s South Dakota v Dole, the Supreme Court ruled (in a dispute over the State’s minimum drinking age and Federal highway funds transfers to the State) that the Federal government cannot withhold already agreed Federal funds from a State in order to coerce State acquiescence with Federal wishes. Funds can be withheld to “persuade,” but the withheld funds must be related to the question at hand rather than a blanket withholding, and the amount withheld cannot be coercive in its size, but only persuasive. Without naming a threshold for the amount, the Court held that the 5% withholding imposed by the Federal government was not coercive.
Right or wrong, that’s the law of the land as things stand. Congress and the President will have to statutorily overrule the Supreme Court to enable such a broad withholding of Federal funds from San Francisco.
On the other hand, stopping sending all Federal funds to all cities altogether would bypass the Court’s ruling (although legislation still would be necessary to stop completely the funds transfers). In the end, we have to ask why the citizens of Illinois, for instance, should have to pay any part of, let’s say, San Francisco’s expenses at all.
It’s true enough that we’re all in this republican democracy nation of ours together, and so we support each other. But that mutual support includes cities like San Francisco not creating themselves as burdens on the rest of our nation with its irresponsible, profligate spending while demanding OPM to pay for that spending.