Retorts: Sift SB 54 facts from rumor

WESTMINSTER CITY COUNCIL will consider legal action against SB 54.

At every public meeting of city councils in Orange County, whenever the subject of sanctuary cities comes up, there seems to be a lot more heat than light.

As I write this, I am preparing to attend and cover the Westminster City Council meeting at which the controversy over Senate Bill 54 – which places some restrictions on the cooperation between federal immigration officers and local police agencies regarding citizenship status of those in custody – will be the main topic, or at least the loudest one.

Should Westminster join other cities and support lawsuits against California, which include legal action by the federal Department of Justice?

It’s not up to me. But perhaps a few points of clarification on statements raised by commenters at previous council meetings.

There is no “opt out” choice available.For better or worse, the law is on the books, and cities may not lawfully just ignore it, until and unless it’s overturned by the courts or removed by the legislature or referendum.

65,000 murders by illegal aliens since 9/11?Unlikely. Based on recent estimates of illegals in the population – about 3.5 percent – that would mean that undocumented persons committed more than half of all murders during that period.

SB 54 is in violation of the “supremacy clause” of the federal constitution. That’s Article VI, Clause Two, which states: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

That does appear to make it pretty clear-cut that SB 54 is headed for a rough time in the courts. However, take a look at Printz v. United States.In 1997 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down portions of a gun control law that required local law enforcement to assist in compiling records of background checks of those applying to purchase handguns.

The majority decision was based on the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Put another way, the Feds can’t “commandeer” local police and require them to do, or not do, something unless authorized by the Constitution. Ironically, that case involved “overreach” by Uncle Sam, when this one is about “overreach” by the state.

Does that settle it? Of course not. But it does suggest that the matter is more complex than it might seem.

My point here is that there’s a lot more to all of this than slogans, shouting and placards. I hope that tonight we have more light and less heat.

Jim Tortolano’s Retorts appears every other week.



Leave a Reply