Oral arguments before an appeals court have focused on whether President Donald Trump's administration was overstepping its authority by withholding public safety grants from sanctuary cities, such as Chicago, unless they fully enforce immigration laws.
The case before a three-judge panel at the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday stems from a city of Chicago lawsuit. The Justice Department appealed to the Chicago-based 7th Circuit in a bid to reverse a lower-court ruling temporarily freezing the policy. That freeze applies to all 50 states. The Trump administration says, at worst, it should only apply to Chicago.
Judge Ilana Rovner asked if the Trump administration was unduly expanding its powers at the expense of states' rights. She suggested it was by threatening to withhold grants and "conscripting" city police to enforce federal laws.
Government lawyers argued the administration has authority to apply that pressure.
In a related case, U.S. District Judge William Orrick in California in November blocked President Donald Trump's executive order nationwide that cut funds to sanctuary cities, saying Trump can't set new conditions on spending OK'd by Congress.