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Prof. Glenn Smith Examines Intricacies of Federal Lawsuit Against California

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

In what appears to be a conservative preemptive strike against California's so-called sanctuary laws, the Trump administration recently filed a lawsuit against the state over three laws passed in recent months, saying they made it impossible for federal immigration officials to deport criminals who were born outside the United States. The Justice Department called the laws unconstitutional and asked a judge to block them.

California Western School of Law Professor Glenn Smith appeared on 10News to discuss the debate surrounding state versus federal law, and whether/how they conflict.

"It's not unusual for states to sue the federal government or vice-versa," says Smith. "Those battles can be long, tedious, and involve a large sum of the public's money."

10News reported on how this lawsuit can affect the lives of those involved, including taxpayers.

"We're looking at a multiyear, multi-million-dollar lawsuit on both sides," Smith explains. "The reality is that we the taxpayers end up paying for the high-priced talent that California will bring to the lawsuit, as well as the Justice Department's costs."

Should this case eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court, Smith asserts that to assume that the justices would rule based on political leanings would be a mistake. "One of the interesting things about this area of law called 'preemption,'" Smith explains, "is that it tends to divide the court in non-ideological ways."

Regardless of which way the political needle leans, the reality is that decisions made in the Supreme and lower Courts serve as an indicator, says Smith, of how influence may be shifting between state and federal powers.