An Orange County judge ruled Thursday that the city of Huntington Beach does not need to obey California’s controversial sanctuary state law. [OC Register]
Senate Bill 54, which took effect on Jan. 1, prohibits state and local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities and from inquiring about an individual’s immigration status, except in certain cases, like incidents involving violent felonies. The law has faced a groundswell of opposition from agencies in Orange County.
In April, Huntington Beach City Attorney Michael Gates sued the state of California, arguing SB 54 unconstitutionally interferes with the city’s charter authority to enforce local laws and regulations. During a hearing held Thursday, Superior Court Judge James Crandall largely agreed with the city.
Crandall granted the Huntington Beach’s request to not have to abide by SB 54 while the case undergoes an appeal. In doing so, the judge also acknowledged the case will make its way through higher courts for months to come.
During the Orange County court hearing, Deputy Attorney General Jonathan Eisenberg argued that the state constitution requires charter cities to abide by the same laws as general law cities on matters considered to be of statewide concern. Eisenberg stated that Huntington Beach is not unique from the rest of California and that what happens in the city regarding immigration enforcement affects the entire state.
But, Crandall cited parts of the California Constitution that grant charter cities some degree of autonomy. One clause in Section 5, Article 11 lists areas over which a charter may bestow control, including “government of the police force.”
In general, charters allow cities more control over municipal affairs, including how they conduct elections and deal with employees. Charters were meant to restrict “the ever-extending tentacles of state government,” Crandall said.
Additionally, Crandall, at times, criticized SB 54, saying it forces cities into “one size fits all” policing. The judge also said legislators “want to keep bossing people around.”
“You haven’t tied their hands and feet, you’ve just taped their mouths,” Crandall said about the restrictions SB 54 places on local law enforcement.