Victory! Seventh Circuit Sinks Anti-Borders Collusion

Press Releases

May 13, 2019

Strikes down consent decree between sanctuary county and ACLU

WASHINGTON – Last Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit struck down a collusive consent decree agreed to by Marion County, Indiana, and an alien represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The agreement had been given the force of law by an activist Indiana federal district court. Because the consent decree in effect enjoined the county from obeying Indiana’s anti-sanctuary law, the State of Indiana moved to intervene in the case. The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), which helped draft Indiana’s law back in 2011, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Indiana – the only group to do so.

The district court consent decree declared that county sheriffs who detained illegal aliens at the request of federal officers – as Indiana’s anti-sanctuary law requires – violate the Fourth Amendment’s bar on unreasonable seizures. No counsel argued this Fourth Amendment issue in the district court. Instead, the county, which wanted to disobey Indiana’s anti-sanctuary law, and the ACLU, which also wanted the law disobeyed, agreed on this position, which the compliant district court made an order of the court. The district court also entered a permanent injunction barring such cooperation in the future.

The Seventh Circuit, however, noted that parties cannot stipulate that a court exceed its jurisdiction, and found that the district court lacked jurisdiction to enter its injunction, since the alien who had brought the suit was unlikely (even in the absence of an injunction) to be detained in Marion County again. Accordingly, the Seventh Circuit vacated the consent decree, thereby restoring the operation of Indiana’s anti-sanctuary law in Marion County.

“Even when a state has an anti-sanctuary law, as Indiana does, that doesn’t stop the anti-borders activists from trying,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “They just find a county that wants to violate the state law, and also an illegal alien who has been detained, bring suit on behalf of the alien, and then come to a speedy agreement with the county that the detention was unconstitutional – even if it obviously wasn’t. Then the activist district court plays along and enters an injunction. We’re gratified that the Seventh Circuit put a stop to this instance of government-by-lawsuit,” Wilcox continued, “and allowed the policy decisions of the people of Indiana their rightful force.”

The case is Lopez-Aguilar v. Marion County Sheriff’s Department, No. 18-1050 (Seventh Circuit).

For additional information, contact: Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • blonergan@irli.org

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