July 22, 2018
Chriss W. Street

An Orange County Superior Court Judge decided July 19 to fast-track the City of Huntington Beach’s lawsuit challenging one of California’s “sanctuary state” laws, and set a date for a September 27 trial.

The Huntington Beach City Council voted April 2 to be the first California city to sue the state to overturn Senate Bill 54 (SB 54), titled the “California Values Act.” Mayor Mike Posey and Councilman Erik Peterson that sponsored the closed session agenda item that passed on a 6 to 1 vote in closed session, called SB 54 “constitutional overreach.” The council directed City Attorney Michael Gates to to invite other cities and counties to join the suit, according to the local Los Alamitos Patch.

Mayor Posey issued a press release the next morning that stated that unlike other cities that had passed ordinances and resolutions protesting the SB 54, Huntington Beach had independent authority as a “charter city” to file its own lawsuit to preserve local residents’ right to protections under the California and U.S. Constitutions.

California Deputy Attorney General Jonathan Eisenberg filed an early July motion to halt Huntington Beach’s lawsuit on the grounds it would be more efficient to delay the state court action until judgement was rendered in two similar federal lawsuits filed earlier this year.

A federal judge upheld SB 54 earlier this month, along with one other “sanctuary state” law, while blocking part of AB 450, a law that penalized California businesses for voluntary cooperation with federal immigration law enforcement.

The Los Angeles Times reported that at the July 19 trial setting hearing, Judge Crandall denied the State of California’s request to delay trial, writing that the “two federal actions do not cover the same subject matter” as the Huntington Beach lawsuit.

City Attorney Gatesto said he was pleased with the ruling and believed “the court is interested in taking up the matter.” Gatesto added that SB 54 improperly forbids certain types of general fund spending on law enforcement by municipalities.

The Federation for Immigration Reform argues that SB 54 effectively makes California a “sanctuary state” by legalizing and standardizing statewide non-cooperation policies between California law enforcement agencies and federal immigration authorities.