The Ninth Circuit found the Trump administration overstepped its authority with the executive order because only Congress can put conditions on federal funds. The court explained “If [the administration] were to enforce the Executive Order, the Executive would assert a power that belongs solely to Congress by withdrawing funds in the absence of congressional authorization.”
In February, the AAUP joined with other groups, including members of the California Community College System, in filing an amicus brief opposing the executive order and supporting a permanent injunction preventing its enforcement.
The AAUP’s interest in the case stemmed from the potential application of the executive order to colleges and universities. Our brief argued that an extension would negatively impact colleges’ and universities’ ability to carry out their public mission and their interests in developing a diverse student body. Allowing the executive order to stand would also set a dangerous precedent for the proposition that the president may unilaterally use the threat of withholding federal funding in a broad and punitive manner as part of an effort to coerce colleges and universities to participate in federal immigration enforcement.
In the decision, the Ninth Circuit upheld the permanent injunction preventing enforcement of the order against the city and county of San Francisco and in California, but lifted the nationwide injunction and sent the case back to the lower court for a more searching inquiry into the need for such relief.
The Trump administration has not indicated whether it will appeal the decision. The AAUP will continue to follow the case and will keep you updated.
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Risa Lieberwitz, AAUP General Counsel
Aaron Nisenson, AAUP Senior Counsel