Chicago Sues for Federal Funds for Sanctuary Cities

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has filed a lawsuit against the United States Department of Justice for threatening to withhold federal funds to sanctuary cities. Back in January, President Trump signed an executive order allowing for the federal government to withhold federal funds from cities who apprehend illegal immigrants without notifying ICE.

Mayor Emanuel’s lawsuit, however, is not able to happen yet. Article 3 Section 2 of the Constitution contains the Case or Controversy Clause, which dictates that an incident must occur before a lawsuit may be heard. In other words, for Mayor Emanuel to sue the Department of Justice, the federal government must first revoke funding from Chicago. This has not happened yet, so the courts can not hear this case.
In addition, this lawsuit is already settled. South Dakota v. Dole (1987) upheld the right of the federal government to withhold federal funds to states as a means to influence policy. The 10th Amendment gives the state governments the power to self-determination in practically every respect, but it does not give the several states a positive claim to federal funding.

Libertarians should celebrate that decision. It upholds the right of the states to determine its own policy. It also maintains that states do not have the right to federal funding. If a libertarian disagrees with me, do tell me why your state is entitled to the funds of people from another state. Tell me why a household is entitled to the funds of another household. The further we can decentralize, the better off we will all be. A state now has no positive claim to federal funding any longer. And it has been that way for 30 years now. Why should libertarians not celebrate that?

If Chicago values the protection of illegal immigrants over their federal funding, that is a choice they may make, but none of us are obligated to pay for that decision. This applies in the same way to individuals. You have the right to live as you please, so long as you do not violate the rights of others (this includes forcing me or anyone else to sponsor your lifestyle).