On February 26, 2018, the Supreme Court declined to hear the Trump Administration’s appeal to the decision for the DACA case in the Northern District of California. In an unusual step, called “certiorari before judgment,” the Department of Justice (DOJ) had not only appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco, to review the Northern District of California’s decision, but simultaneously requested the Supreme Court to immediately take up the case, bypass the Ninth Circuit, and issue an emergency ruling on the merits. Certiorari before judgement has typically been used only in major cases involving national crises that require immediate resolution, such as in the cases Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, when President Harry Truman attempted to seize control of the U.S. Steel industry for the war effort in Korea, or U.S. v. Nixon when President Richard Nixon’s refused a special prosecutor’s subpoena to turn over White House tape recordings.
On March 6, 2018, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a complaint against the State of California in the Eastern District of California (United States of America v. California) over three new “Sanctuary City” laws signed by Governor Jerry Brown that took effect at the start of this year that limit the California police departments to cooperate, share information with, and transfer detained undocumented individuals to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The DOJ’s Complaint relies on the broad authority of the Executive Branch to enforce immigration laws, as well as the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution that establishes, as the Complaint cites, “a state enactment is invalid if it ‘stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress,’ Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U.S. 52, 67 (1941), or if it ‘discriminate[s] against the United States or those with whom it deals,” South Carolina v. Baker, 485 U.S. 505, 523 (1988).’” The DOJ also cites that California does not generally apply similar laws that limit cooperation with other federal agencies, and thus the DOJ claims that these Sanctuary City laws are discriminatory toward the agencies that enforce compliance with federal immigration laws.