TFW your ConLaw Professor gets published in the LA Times regarding the unconstitutionality of Trump’s racist immigration edict


To the editor

The U.S. Constitution can protect our state against President Trump’s threats to withhold federal funds from so-called sanctuary jurisdictions if we don’t comply with his immigration edicts. (“Trump versus California: The feud turns from rhetorical to real,” Jan. 26)

In 1999 the U.S. Supreme Court told us in Davis vs. Monroe County that federal spending power, “if wielded without concern for the federal balance, has the potential to obliterate distinctions between national and local … power by permitting the federal government to set policy in the most sensitive areas of traditional state concern.” Those areas include police, safety, health, transportation, welfare and more.

Also, though federal money can be granted with conditions attached, the Court reiterated in the 2012 case concerning the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate that “any such conditions must be unambiguous so that a state at least knows what it is getting into.” Undoubtedly, the federal laws under which California receives the money in question do not hint that it could be taken away if a state doesn’t comply with a president’s immigration demands.

Finally, in the 1937 case Steward Machine case, the Court held that conditions on federal money “may not cross the point at which pressure turns into compulsion” against the states. The Court relied on this principle in the healthcare case to strike down forced Medicaid expansion in the states; California could be protected similarly.

Ira Spiro, Los Angeles

The writer teaches constitutional law at Peoples College of Law in Los Angeles.


Professor Spiro’s erudite letter regarding the unconstitutionality of this rogue Federal Administration’s overreach is profound. Unlike Trump and the majority of his white supremacist cabinet, those of us with legal educations already know these acts will likely be struck down under the Eleventh Amendment. In National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 567 U.S. (2012), SCOTUS ruled that the federal government cannot use spending power to coerce states. This is exactly what Troglodyte Trump is attempting to do with his unhinged overreach.

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