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California Sanctuary Law Will Not Be Challenged By President Trump, US Supreme Court Rules

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WASHINGTON (Los Angeles Times) —  The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear the Trump administration’s challenge to a California “sanctuary” law, leaving intact rules that prohibit law enforcement officials from aiding federal agents in taking custody of immigrants as they are released from jail.

Only Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. voted to hear the administration’s appeal.

The court’s action is a major victory for California in its long running battle with President Trump.

At issue was a clash between federal power and states’ rights.

The Trump administration’s challenge was launched by former Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions. He insisted California was unconstitutionally interfering with federal immigration enforcement. But the Supreme Court, in a decision written by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, has said state and local officials are not obliged to carry out federal enforcement. That state’s rights doctrine appears to have prevailed. Even Trump’s two appointees — Justice Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh — refused to hear the administration’s appeal.

The court also refused to hear several cases involving gun rights and police immunity. The justices for now appear unready to reconsider past rulings that gave the states ample authority to regulate guns and to shield police from lawsuits.

Trump’s lawyers said the federal government has exclusive authority over immigrants, and they said the state is obstructing federal enforcement of the law.

“Aliens are present and may remain in the United States only as provided for under the auspices of federal immigration law,” Solicitor General Noel Francisco said in his appeal. “It therefore is the United States, not California, that ‘retains the right’ to set the conditions under which aliens in this country may be detained, released, and removed. As a result of SB 54, criminal aliens have evaded the detention and removal that Congress prescribed, and have instead returned to the civilian population, where they are disproportionately likely to commit additional crimes.”

In response, California’s lawyers argued the Constitution’s 10th Amendment makes clear that state officials need not enforce a federal law. They relied in part on a 1997 opinion written by the late Justice Antonin Scalia which held that federal authorities may not “commandeer” state or local officials to carry out a federal law. In that case, Printz vs. United States, the high court said local sheriffs could not be required to conduct background checks on buyers of hand guns.

The same principle applies when enforcing federal immigration law, said California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra in defense of the law. “SB 54 regulates the use of the state’s own resources. It establishes the conditions under which state and local law enforcement agencies may deploy public funds and personnel to assist with federal immigration enforcement,” he wrote.

California’s lawyers also stressed that the state cooperates with federal agents if they have a judicial warrant or if the immigrants are being held for serious or violent crimes, including prisoners who are serving time in the state system. system.

The case was called United States vs. California. The state Legislature adopted the California Values Act in 2017 after the Trump administration stepped up enforcement against immigrants living illegally in this country. State lawmakers said they were concerned that “local entanglement in federal immigration enforcement threatens trust between California’s immigrant community and state and local law enforcement agencies.” If so, immigrants will “fear approaching police when they are victims of, and witnesses to, crimes, jeopardizing public safety for all Californians,” the state’s lawyers said.

The Trump administration, led by Sessions, filed suit against California seeking to having the state law declared invalid. But a federal judge in Sacramento and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco refused and ruled state and local officials were not obstructing federal agents. “Refusing to help not the same as impeding,” said U.S. District Judge John Mendez.

While the state’s lawyers rely on conservative precedents upholding states’ rights, Trump’s lawyers rely on a liberal ruling by the Supreme Court in 2012 that sided with the Obama administration and voided much of an Arizona law that would have empowered local police to arrest and detain immigrants in the country illegally.

In Arizona vs. United States, the high court stressed then that immigration enforcement is a federal matter. Quoting that opinion, Francisco said the “supremacy of the national power” in immigration enforcement was “made clear by the Constitution.”

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Biden Expected To Repeal Military Trans Ban Tomorrow

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The Biden administration is expected to repeal the ban on transgender Americans from serving in the military, multiple people informed of the decision told CBS News. The announcement is expected as soon as Monday, one senior Defense official and four outside advocates of repealing the ban told CBS News.

The senior Defense official told CBS News the repeal will be through executive order signed by President Joe Biden. The announcement is expected to take place at a ceremony with newly-confirmed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who will order the Pentagon to go back to the policy enacted in 2016 by former Defense Secretary Ash Carter that allowed transgender Americans to serve openly.

The White House did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The new order will direct the branches of the military to outline an implementation plan. 

The ban was announced by former President Trump via a tweet in July 2017. The ban took effect in April 2019 and barred transgender Americans from enlisting in the military.

In 2014, it was estimated there were around 15,500 transgender military members serving, according to a study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

Biden frequently repeated on the campaign trail his promise to repeal the ban.

Austin said at his Senate confirmation hearing last week that he planned to repeal the ban.

“I support the president’s plan or plan to overturn the ban,” Austin said on Tuesday when asked by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, “I truly believe, Senator, that as I said in my opening statement, that if you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve. And, you can expect that I will support that throughout.”

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Trump Pardons Steve Bannon In One of His Final Acts As 45th President

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(CNN)— President Donald Trump has decided to pardon his former chief strategist Steve Bannon, in a last-minute decision made only hours before he is scheduled to depart the White House for a final time.

Officials cautioned CNN that Trump’s decision was not final until he signed the paperwork. Trump told people that after much deliberation, he had decided to pardon Bannon as one of his final acts in office.

Bannon’s pardon would follow a frantic scramble during the President’s final hours in office as attorneys and top aides debated his inclusion on Trump’s outgoing clemency list. Despite their falling out in recent years, Trump was eager to pardon his former aide after recently reconnecting with him as he helped fan Trump’s conspiracy theories about the election.

It was a far cry from when Trump exiled Bannon from his inner circle after he was quoted in a book trashing the President’s children, claiming that Donald Trump Jr. had been “treasonous” by meeting with a Russian attorney and labeling Ivanka Trump “dumb as a brick.” Those statements from Bannon drove Trump to issue a lengthy statement saying he had “lost his mind.”

“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency,” Trump said at the time.Things shifted in recent months as Bannon attempted to breach Trump’s inner circle once again by offering advice before the election and pushing his false theories after Trump had lost.

Since Trump’s election defeat, the President has leaned further into his expansive pardon powers — granting pardons to his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, longtime ally Roger Stone and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, among others.

Among Trump’s pardons earlier in his term were those for former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, right-wing commentator Dinesh D’Souza and financier Michael Milken.

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California Governor Formally Appoints Alex Padilla To Fill US Senate Seat Vacated By Kamala Harris

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(CNN) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom formally submitted the appointment of Alex Padilla to the US Senate today, according to a press release from the governor’s office. 

Padilla formally resigned as Secretary of State this morning and Gov. Newsom also submitted his nomination letter for Assembly member Shirley Weber to replace him. The Deputy Secretary of State, James Schwab, will be the Acting Secretary of State.

“It is fitting that on the same day we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — a civil rights icon who fought for justice and representation — we also move forward the appointment of California’s first Latino U.S. Senator Alex Padilla and the nomination of Dr. Shirley Weber who will serve as the first-ever African American Secretary of State. Both will be strong defenders of our democracy during this fragile moment in our nation’s history,” said Gov. Newsom.

“I am humbled and honored by your trust in me to represent California in the United States Senate. I look forward to continuing to serve the great State of California as a United States Senator and to ensuring that the rights and democratic principles we cherish are protected and preserved for all people,” Padilla wrote in a letter to Gov. Newsom.

Some context: Earlier today, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris formally resigned her seat as one of California’s US Senators. She’ll be inaugurated as vice president on Wednesday, Jan. 20. In a farewell addressed posted to Twitter, Harris said, “Of course, I’m not saying goodbye. In many ways, I’m now saying hello as your vice president.”

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