Article | Immigration Law
On Immigration, Information, and the New Jurisprudence of Federalism
by Nathaniel F. Sussman*
From Vol. 93, No. 1 (November 2019)
93 S. Cal. L. Rev. 129 (2019)
Keywords: Section 1373, Anti-Commandeering Doctrine, Murphy v. NCAA
This Paper argues that in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision, Murphy v. NCAA—a case completely unrelated to immigration—there is now a single best answer to the constitutional question presented in the ongoing sanctuary jurisdiction cases. The answer is that the Trump Administration’s withholding of federal grants is indeed unconstitutional, but this is because Section 1373, the statute on which the Executive’s actions are predicated, is itself unconstitutional. Specifically, this Paper argues that the expansion of the anti-commandeering doctrine under Murphy provides a tool by which the federal appellate courts can invalidate Section 1373 as an impermissible federal regulation of state and local governments. By adopting this approach, courts can surpass the comparatively surface-level questions about the Executive’s power to enforce a particular federal statute, and instead address the more central issue: the existence of Section 1373.
This argument proceeds in the following stages. Part I provides a background for each of the central concepts in this analysis. These include (1) an explanation of the anti-commandeering doctrine in its pre- and post-Murphy forms, (2) a description of Section 1373, (3) a working definition of “sanctuary jurisdictions,” and (4) a brief overview of the sanctuary jurisdiction cases decided to date. Part II argues that, in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Murphy, there is no question that Section 1373 is subject to anti-commandeering claims. Part III then argues that, as a matter of doctrine, Section 1373 should fail to withstand such claims because it does not qualify for any exceptions to the anti-commandeering rule. Finally, Part IV argues that, aside from Supreme Court precedent, there are a series of independent, normative reasons to strike down Section 1373. This Paper concludes that Section 1373 should be held unconstitutional in its challenge before the higher federal courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States if necessary, and that such a ruling is the most desirable method of resolving the sanctuary jurisdiction cases.
*. Executive Articles Editor, Southern California Law Review, Volume 93; J.D. Candidate 2020, University of Southern California Gould School of Law; M.S. Philosophy 2017, The London School of Economics and Political Science; B.A. Political Science 2016, University of Western Ontario. I am grateful to Professor Rebecca Brown for her invaluable guidance throughout this Paper’s development. I also thank my family, friends, and peers at USC Gould for their helpful feedback on the presentation and substance of my arguments. Finally, I thank the fantastic team of editors at the Southern California Law Review for their diligent and thoughtful work throughout the publication process.