Two Federal Courts Block Proposals to Restrict Access to Birth Control

Last week, two federal judges issued back-to-back decisions which block Trump administration rules (“Final Rules”) from taking effect; these Final Rules would have made it significantly easier for employers to deny many women contraceptive coverage under the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) based on either religious or moral grounds.  The ACA, in a provision known as the Women’s Health Amendment, mandates that preventive care and screenings, including contraception, be offered without cost in all group health plans.  These Final Rules would have significantly expanded the ability of employers to obtain a “religious exemption” based upon objection to contraceptive care, and would also have created a new “moral exemption” to the contraceptive care mandate.

Supreme Court Update: Court Stays Injunction on Transgender Military Ban

On January 22, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court in an unsigned order granted the Trump administration’s application to lift injunctions blocking the ban on transgender individuals from the military “pending disposition of the Government’s appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and disposition of the Government’s petition for a writ of certiorari, if such writ is sought.”

Supreme Court Update: Court’s Inaction Leaves DACA Intact For Now

On January 22, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court opted not to act on Trump administration’s appeal in DACA II, which leaves DACA intact for now after the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s affirmation of the District Court’s preliminary injunction on the termination of the DACA program. The Justices’ next private conference to consider petition seeking review is scheduled for February 15.

District Court Judge Blocks 2020 Census Citizenship Question

On January 15, 2019, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman ruled against the Trump administration’s decision to the question “Is this person a citizen of the United States” to the 2020 census.

Judge Furman enjoined the government from implementing Secretary Ross’s March 26, 2018 decision or from adding a question to the 2020 census questionnaire “without curing the legal defects” identified in the 277-page opinion.

Appeals Court Vacates Injunction Against Trump Transgender Military Ban

Earlier this month, the Trump administration won a battle in its push to ban transgender individuals from the military, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia vacated a preliminary injunction against the ban. The government had lost in its previous effort to move ahead with the ban in August 2018, when the District Court for the District of Columbia denied a Trump administration motion to “dissolve” the injunction. The original injunction was issued in October, 2017 by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Immigration: Supreme Court Maintains Ban on Proposed Asylum Restrictions

A few days before the Christmas holiday, the United States Supreme Court voted to maintain a ban on new immigration restrictions proposed by the Trump administration. The December 21 vote, in which Chief Justice Roberts joined Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan and Sotomayor, blocked new rules that would limit applications for asylum by those seeking to enter the United States.

A decision by Judge Jon S. Tigar on November 19 imposed the nationwide injunction on the proposed restriction, which would affect asylum seekers entering the United States solely through “designated ports of entry.” Judge Tigar found that this proposed rule contravened the language of the Immigration and Naturalization Act, which permitted asylum applications to be filed by immigrants who arrive in this country “whether or not at a designated port of arrival.”

Immigration: District Judge Declares New Asylum Restrictions Unlawful

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan on December 17, 2018 blocked several Trump administration policies that made it more difficult for victims of gang and domestic violence to seek asylum in the United States. In a 107-page opinion, the Court rules that the policies are “arbitrary and capricious and contrary to law” and orders the government to cease their implementation

Sanctuary Jurisdictions Win Another Court Challenge

In late November, a District Court judge handed a victory to defenders of immigrants’ rights in their challenge to Trump-era restrictions on criminal justice funding. Seven states and the City of New York had argued that new Department of Justice requirements for information-sharing and “access” to undocumented detainees in local facilities exceeded federal authority and violated states rights.

Since 2006, states and localities have been eligible to apply for federal funding under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (“JAG”) program for grants to support criminal justice programs in various categories, including law enforcement, crime prevention, mental health, victim and witness services, drug treatment and technology. These funds are allocated according to a formula based upon a particular jurisdiction’s population and violent crime statistics. On July 25, 2017, for the first time in the history of the program, the United States Department of Justice and the Attorney General (collectively “Defendants”) announced that they would be imposing three immigration-related conditions on applicants for JAG funds.

Immigration: Ninth Circuit Ruling Affirms Injunction Maintaining DACA

On September 5, 2017, then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the government was terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. That same day, then–Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke issued a memorandum confirming the change. Multiple lawsuits challenging the Trump administration’s actions to terminate DACA were filed across the country. On January 9, 2018, Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a preliminary injunction requiring the federal government to maintain the DACA program on a nationwide basis.

On November 8, 2018, the Ninth Circuit issued a decision (hereafter DACA II) affirming the lawfulness of the preliminary injunction. The Ninth Circuit first ruled that Acting Secretary Duke’s decision to rescind the DACA program is reviewable under the APA, because the Acting Secretary based the rescission of DACA solely on a belief that DACA was beyond the authority of DHS. It also ruled that INA Section 1252(g) does not deprive courts of jurisdiction to review the DACA rescission order.