United States v. California

Decision Date04 July 2018
Docket NumberNo. 2:18–cv–490–JAM–KJN,2:18–cv–490–JAM–KJN
Citation314 F.Supp.3d 1077
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of California
Parties The UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, v. State of CALIFORNIA, et al., Defendants.

David Taylor Shelledy, U.S. Attorney's Office, Sacramento, CA, Joseph Anton Darrow, Lauren C. Bingham, Francesca Genova, U.S. Department Of Justice, Civil Division, Joshua Samuel Press, Kathryne M. Gray, August Edward Flentje, Erez Reuveni, U.S. Department of Justice Washington, DC, for Plaintiff.

Anthony R. Hakl, III, Maureen C. Onyeagbako, Attorney General's Office for the State of California Department of Justice, Sacramento, CA, Cherokee Dawn–Marie Melton, California Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General, Lee I. Sherman, California Department of Justice Bureau of Children's Justice, Los Angeles, CA, Christine Chuang, Office of the Attorney General California Department of Justice, Oakland, CA, for Defendants.




Before this Court is the United States of America's ("Plaintiff" or "United States") Motion for a Preliminary Injunction ("Motion"). Plaintiff seeks an Order from this Court enjoining enforcement of certain provisions of three laws enacted by the State of California ("Defendant" or "California")1 through Assembly Bill 103 ("AB 103"), Assembly Bill 450 ("AB 450") and Senate Bill 54 ("SB 54"). Specifically, Plaintiff requests that this Court preliminarily enjoin the following provisions of California law: (1) California Government Code Section 12532 (as added by AB 103); (2) California Government Code Sections 7285.1 and 7285.2 and California Labor Code Sections 90.2 and 1019.2 as applied to private employers only (as added by AB 450); and (3) California Government Code Sections 7284.6(a)(1)(C), 7284.6(a)(1)(D), and 7284.6(a)(4) (as added by SB 54). Plaintiff claims that these statutes violate the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, Art. VI, cl.2, and are invalid. Compl., ECF No. 1, ¶¶ 61, 63 & 65. Plaintiff argues that federal law preempts each provision because, in the area of immigration enforcement, California "lacks the authority to intentionally interfere with private citizens' [and state and local employees'] ability to cooperate voluntarily with the United States or to comply with federal obligations." Motion for Preliminary Injunction ("Mot."), ECF No. 2–1, at 2.

Plaintiff also contends that California "has no authority to target facilities holding federal detainees pursuant to a federal contract for an inspection scheme to review the ‘due process’ afforded during arrest and detention." Id. Accordingly, Plaintiff implores this Court to enjoin these state law provisions because they "stand as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress and are therefore preempted by federal law." Id. at 3 (citations omitted).

Defendant vigorously opposes Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction, see Opp'n, ECF No. 74, contending that these three state laws properly "allocate the use of limited law-enforcement resources, provide workplace protections, and protect the rights of [California's] residents." Id. at 1. Defendant further argues that these statutes "are consistent with applicable federal law and do not interfere with the federal government's responsibility over immigration." Id. Defendant claims that it "acted squarely within its constitutional authority when it enacted the law[s] [the United States seeks to enjoin] here[.]" Id. None of the state laws, according to Defendant, "conflict[ ] with federal law or undermine[ ] the federal government's authority or ability to undertake immigration enforcement and all are consistent with the legislative framework [of the immigration laws and regulations]." Id.

This Motion presents unique and novel constitutional issues. The Court must answer the complicated question of where the United States' enumerated power over immigration ends and California's reserved police power begins. The Court must also resolve the issue of whether state sovereignty includes the power to forbid state agents and private citizens from voluntarily complying with a federal program. Plaintiff's Motion requires this Court to carefully examine the purposes and principles of the federalist system—a system, established by the Constitution, of dual sovereignty between the States and the Federal Government whose principal benefit may be "a check on abuses of government power." Gregory v. Ashcroft, 501 U.S. 452, 458, 111 S.Ct. 2395, 115 L.Ed.2d 410 (1991).

Deciding these critical issues requires this Court to determine the proper balance between the twin powers of California and the United States. The law is clear that so long as the Federal Government is acting within the powers granted to it under the Constitution, Congress may impose its will on the States. Id. at 460, 111 S.Ct. 2395. However, if Congress is going to preempt or interfere with the decision of the people of California, "it is incumbent upon [this Court] to be certain of [Congress's] intent before finding that federal law overrides" the constitutional balance of federal and state powers. Id. (citation omitted).

If Congress intends to alter the usual constitutional balance between the States and Federal Government it must make its intention to do so unmistakably clear in the language of the statute.... Congress should make its intention clear and manifest if it intends to preempt the historic powers of [the State].

Id. at 460–61, 111 S.Ct. 2395 (quoting Atascadero State Hosp. v. Scanlon, 473 U.S. 234, 242, 105 S.Ct. 3142, 87 L.Ed.2d 171 (1985) ) (quotation marks omitted).

Applying these well-established principles of law to the present Motion, and as explained in detail below, this Court finds that AB 103, SB 54, and the employee notice provision of AB 450 are permissible exercises of California's sovereign power. With respect to the other three challenged provisions of AB 450, the Court finds that California has impermissibly infringed on the sovereignty of the United States. Plaintiff's Motion is therefore denied in part and granted in part.

II. Legal Standards
A. Preliminary Injunction Standard

Plaintiff moves the Court to enjoin enforcement of the challenged state laws. Before the Court can grant the requested relief, Plaintiff must establish—as to each challenged law—that it is likely to succeed on the merits of its claim, that it is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of the equities tips in its favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest. Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20, 129 S.Ct. 365, 172 L.Ed.2d 249 (2008). In the Ninth Circuit, an injunction may also be proper "if there is a likelihood of irreparable injury to plaintiff; there are serious questions going to the merits; the balance of hardships tips sharply in favor of the plaintiff; and the injunction is in the public interest." M.R. v. Dreyfus, 697 F.3d 706, 725 (9th Cir. 2012).

Here, however, the nature of the requested relief increases Plaintiff's burden. An order enjoining the enforcement of state laws would alter the status quo and thus qualifies as a mandatory injunction. Tracy Rifle & Pistol LLC v. Harris, 118 F.Supp.3d 1182, 1194 (E.D. Cal. 2015). Plaintiff must establish that the law and facts clearly favor its position, not simply that it is likely to succeed on its claims. See Garcia v. Google, Inc., 786 F.3d 733, 740 (9th Cir. 2015).

B. Supremacy Clause

In the United States, "both the National and State Governments have elements of sovereignty the other is bound to respect." Arizona v. United States, 567 U.S. 387, 398, 132 S.Ct. 2492, 183 L.Ed.2d 351 (2012). The Constitution establishes the balance between these sovereign powers and the Nation's dual structure. The Supremacy Clause declares that the "Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof ... shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby[.]" U.S. Const. Art. VI, cl. 2. The Tenth Amendment limits the powers of the United States to those which the Constitution delegates, reserving the remaining powers to the States. U.S. Const. amend. X ("The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."). Thus, rather than wielding a plenary power to legislate, Congress may only enact legislation under those powers enumerated in the Constitution. See Murphy v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, ––– U.S. ––––, 138 S.Ct. 1461, 1476, 200 L.Ed.2d 854 (2018) ("The Constitution confers on Congress not plenary legislative power but only certain enumerated powers."); United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598, 607, 120 S.Ct. 1740, 146 L.Ed.2d 658 (2000) ("Every law enacted by Congress must be based on one or more of its powers enumerated in the Constitution.").

The United States' broad power over "the subject of immigration and the status of aliens" is undisputed. Arizona, 567 U.S. at 394, 132 S.Ct. 2492.2 "But the Court has never held that every state enactment which in any way deals with aliens is a regulation of immigration and thus per se pre-empted by this constitutional power, whether latent or exercised." DeCanas v. Bica, 424 U.S. 351, 355, 96 S.Ct. 933, 47 L.Ed.2d 43 (1976)superseded by statute on other grounds as recognized in Arizona, 567 U.S. at 404, 132 S.Ct. 2492.

1. Obstacle Preemption

Where Congress has the power to enact legislation it has the power to preempt state law, even in areas traditionally regulated by the States. See Arizona, 567 U.S. at 399, 132 S.Ct. 2492 ; Gregory, 501 U.S. at 460, 111 S.Ct. 2395. Courts recognize three types of preemption: express preemption, field preemption, and conflict...

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