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Another federal judge put another roadblock in front of President Trump

It's bad for his sanctuary city policy, but can help him politically

CNN —  

A ruling from a federal district judge invalidating President Trump’s attempt to restrict federal money for sanctuary cities is a policy setback for his Administration. But it is also a huge political gift.

There is nothing the Republican base – and the bulk of Republican elected officials – hate more than what they view as liberal judges run amok. It’s the epitome – to Republicans – of liberals trying to institute their will on a populace without ever letting people vote or have their opinions heard.

Trump, sensing political opportunity, quickly pounced, with a trio of tweets Wednesday morning blasting the decision.

(Worth noting: The judge in question, William H. Orrick is a district judge and not on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. If his ruling is appealed – and it will be – the 9th Circuit would hear that appeal.)

Trump’s tweets came after a scathing statement from the White House late Tuesday night. “Today, the rule of law suffered another blow, as an unelected judge unilaterally rewrote immigration policy for our Nation,” read the statement in part. “This case is yet one more example of egregious overreach by a single, unelected district judge. Today’s ruling undermines faith in our legal system and raises serious questions about circuit shopping.”

You can expect much more where that came from out of Trump and the White House today. And, unlike some of his positions, Trump will likely get considerable backing from Republicans in Congress on this court ruling.

Remember that the legal question here – can a president attach strings and conditions to federally allocated money for cities and states? – is a rather technical and complicated one. What that means is that the average person won’t engage with the Constitutional questions it raises but rather see it through their own partisan lens.

For Republicans, that’s that a liberal court on the liberal west coast is trying to say it’s okay for cities to break the law by not reporting undocumented immigrants in their communities. It plays into their preconceived notion that the courts are trying to tell them how to live their lives – an argument that, in Republicans’ minds, was affirmed by the recent Supreme Court rulings legalizing same sex marriage and ruling that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate was constitutional.

It’s no coincidence that Trump’s best days – both as a candidate and as president – are tied directly to news (positive or negative) on the courts. (Think releasing his list of potential nominees to the Supreme Court in May 2016 and the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court earlier this month.) Today is likely to be another good one for the president.