The Trump administration Monday asked the Supreme Court to put on hold a nationwide injunction that blocks it from limiting federal grants to so-called sanctuary cities.
At issue is a Justice Department policy where local law enforcement entities that receive certain grants are supposed to provide a level of cooperation with federal agencies charged with enforcing immigration laws.
Chicago took the administration to court and won when a district court judge ruled that the Justice Department likely exceeded its authority and issued the injunction. A federal appeals court is set to hear the challenge, but it left the injunction in place, triggering Monday's request from the administration.
In an emergency petition, Solicitor General Noel Francisco argued that a lower court was wrong to issue such a broad injunction when the case at hand dealt only with the Justice Department's attempt to impose conditions on policing grants in Chicago.
Such a "sweeping remedy" is "unjustifiable and threatens irreparable harm," Francisco wrote.
Lifting the nationwide injunction would enable the administration to continue imposing conditions on federal grants to local law enforcement in other parts of the country.
Nationwide injunctions are a relatively new phenomenon, but they have had a big impact on Trump's policies.
Earlier this month, Assistant Attorney General Beth Williams gave a speech at the American Bar Association noting that there were no examples of nationwide injunctions before 1963 and that by Justice Department estimates, the courts issued an average of only 1.5 nationwide injunctions per year against the Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush administrations and 2.5 per year against the Obama administration.
But in Trump's first year, she said, "judges issued a whopping 20 nationwide injunctions -- an eightfold increase."
The enormous uptick matches the entire eight-year total under the Obama administration and should "draw alarm," Williams said. The use of the injunctions "strikes at the heart of our democratic system" and allows "unelected judges to second-guess the domestic policy and national security decisions of our elected officials."