Appeals court blocks California ban on for-profit prisons

The law signed by Governor Gavin Newsom was one of many efforts to limit California’s cooperation with the federal government as then-President Donald Trump imposed tough law enforcement policies on immigration. But the Biden administration has pursued the U.S. government’s opposition to the law on constitutional grounds.

The 11-member appeals panel said the state law is preempted by the federal government under the « supremacy clause » of the US Constitution. He sent the case back to the court of first instance to rule on further legal arguments.

The Geo Group Inc., which operates two such facilities in California, sued to block the law. Neither Geo nor US Immigration and Customs Enforcement immediately commented on the decision.

“AB 32 would prevent ICE contractors from continuing to operate detention facilities, forcing ICE to entirely transform its approach to detention in the state or abandon its California facilities,” wrote Circuit Judge Jacqueline Nguyen. for the majority of eight panel members. « California cannot exercise that level of control over federal detention operations. »

Bonta drafted the law when he was in the state assembly. His office said it was still reviewing the decision but was « deeply disappointed » by the ruling. The law « was enacted to protect the health and welfare of Californians and recognized the federal government’s own documented concerns about private for-profit prisons and detention facilities, » his office said in a statement.

Two of the eight justices agreed with Nguyen on only part of the majority decision.

And three of the 11 panel members disagreed with the majority decision, with Chief Justice Mary Murguia saying the law is valid « because it does not directly regulate or discriminate against the federal government. »


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