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Posted on: June 8, 2018

Federal Court Issues Ruling on Municipal Funding from Federal Governmentt

A Federal Judge in Pennsylvania has ruled that the Federal administration could not withhold law enforcement grants from a municipality based on a municipality’s “sanctuary city” policy.

Earlier this week a Federal Judge in Pennsylvania ruled that the Federal administration could not withhold law enforcement grants from a municipality based on a municipality’s “sanctuary city” policy. In The City of Philadelphia v. Sessions, Attorney General of the United States, the court ruled that the Trump administration’s policy of withholding certain law enforcement grants, unless the City agreed to assist federal agents with immigration enforcement, “violates statutory and constitutional law.” The judge further ruled that the city’s policies were reasonable, rational, and equitable, and ordered that the funds from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant should be distributed promptly to the city.
 
Regardless of one’s political affiliation or feelings towards sanctuary cities, this ruling will have a profound impact on the executive branch’s ability to set conditions on grant money, outside of those conditions expressly contemplated in enabling legislation. This goes beyond the issue of sanctuary cities and touches upon other matters and grant programs. Nearly all municipalities in the state and nationwide, in one way or another rely on federal grant money to fund services or projects. Limiting the strings that can be attached to this grant money provides a sense of consistency in the ability to receive funds, regardless of the political party at the helm of the federal administration.
 
While nothing is yet to be filed, it is expected that this decision will be appealed. We will keep our members updated on any future developments in this matter. You should review this ruling with your municipal attorney for further information on how it may impact your municipality.
 
Contact: Frank Marshall, Esq., League Staff Attorney, FMarshall@njslom.org, 609-695-3481, Ext. 137.

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