strange new respect
Conservative Court Precedents Trip Up Trump Administration

A Supreme Court ruling once condemned by the Left is now providing legal ammunition to opponents of Trump’s immigration policies. Governing magazine reports:

Liberal sanctuary cities in California and elsewhere may well win their legal battle against President Donald Trump thanks to Supreme Court rulings once heralded by conservatives, including a 2012 opinion that shielded red states from President Barack Obama’s plans to expand Medicaid coverage for low-income Americans.

On Tuesday, a federal judge in San Francisco temporarily blocked enforcement of Trump’s sanctuary city executive order, resting his ruling on high court decisions that protected states and localities from federal meddling.

This is part of a broader phenomenon that we noted before the President’s term began: A series of Roberts Court precedents, on topics ranging from campaign finance to religious liberty to federalism, may end up tripping up Republicans now that they are in power, and winning a “strange new respect” among Democrats now that they are in the minority.

One can argue with any of these rulings—there are strong arguments against many of them—but seen from a separation-of-powers vantage point, this is an example of our Constitutional system functioning the way it’s supposed to, even in the Age of Trump. Even as the Court system becomes more politicized, there is reason to hope that legal precedents will be applied consistently, and that the rule of law will function as a constraint on both parties.

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