Judge denies California’s request to postpone Huntington Beach lawsuit over ‘sanctuary state’

by in News

A lawsuit filed by Huntington Beach against California will be decided sooner rather than, as the state wanted, later.

On Thursday, July 19, Orange County Superior Court Judge James Crandall denied the state’s request for a delay in its battle to preserve sanctuary laws.

The date for a hearing was set for Sept. 27 at 1:30 p.m.

Senate Bill 54, the California Values Act, signed into law last year, limits interaction between local law enforcement and federal immigration officials — with exceptions, including cases that involve violent or “serious” felonies.

Filed in April by Huntington Beach City Attorney Michael Gates, the lawsuit claims SB 54 unconstitutionally interferes with the city’s charter authority to enforce local laws and regulations, including the operation of the police department.

Huntington Beach is one of 121 charter cities in California. Voters decide whether they want their city to operate under its own charter, which allows greater control over “municipal affairs” such as how it conducts elections and deals with its employees.

Still, charters do not provide unlimited self-determination. California’s constitution holds that charter cities are subject to the same state laws as “general law cities” on matters considered to be of “statewide concern” — a caveat that the state argues should apply in this case.

The Huntington Beach lawsuit followed the Trump administration’s litigation calling California’s sanctuary laws unconstitutional.

The federal lawsuit was dealt a blow on July 9 when a judge ruled that California can limit police cooperation with immigration officials. But other claims against the state’s sanctuary laws are still working their way through the courts.

The state contended that the disputes are related and, therefore, the Huntington Beach lawsuit should be postponed until federal litigation reaches its conclusion.

However, Crandall decided against the state’s “motion to stay,” saying the “federal actions do not cover the same subject matter.” The city’s lawsuit, he determined, “raises a completely different ground.”