City of Philadelphia v. Attorney General of the United States of America

Hogan Lovells won a permanent injunction preventing the U.S. Department of Justice from withholding formula grant funding from the City of Philadelphia on account of the City’s efforts to protect immigrants.

On Friday, February 15, 2019, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld the injunction.

In a unanimous decision, Judge Marjorie O. Rendell, joined by Judge Thomas L. Ambro and Judge Anthony J. Scirica, concluded that Congress had not authorized three immigration-related conditions imposed by the Department of Justice on the receipt of funds under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (known as the “Byrne JAG” program).

The decision explained: “Where, as here, the Executive Branch claims authority not granted to it in the Constitution, it literally has no power to act unless and until Congress confers power upon it.” The panel agreed with the City that Congress had not done so. The decision secures crucial funding for the City, and is further significant because it is the first ruling from a U.S. Court of Appeals that the Department of Justice lacked the statutory authority to condition Byrne JAG funds on compliance with 8 U.S.C. § 1373, an immigration-enforcement statute, because § 1373 is not an “applicable law” under the Byrne JAG statute—a ruling that could impact a number of other lawsuits from other cities making their way through the federal courts.

Hogan Lovells advised with a team including Neal Katyal (Picture), Ginny Gibson, Jasmeet Ahuja, Alex Bowerman, Kirti Datla and Matt Higgins.

Involved fees earner: Alexander Bowerman – Hogan Lovells; Kirti Datla – Hogan Lovells; Virginia Gibson – Hogan Lovells; Matthew Higgins – Hogan Lovells; Neal Katyal – Hogan Lovells;

Law Firms: Hogan Lovells;

Clients: City of Philadelphia (US);

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Author: Ambrogio Visconti