6.6.18: Philadelphia – (Politics): The City of Philadelphia’s victory in federal court today was largely due to the testimony of witnesses like Police Commissioner Richard Ross and Deputy Managing Director Mr. Brian Abernathy.
“The primary mode of the trial was to have witnesses talk about why our policies make sense,” said Mr. Marcel Pratt, the City Solicitor who, when the government here decided to sue the Department of Justice for withholding federal grant dollars due to Philadelphia’s immigration policy, served as Head of Litigation.
Mr. Sozi Tulante was the City Solicitor when the lawsuit was filed and he was among those in attendance today at City Hall when officials, including the Mayor, offered reaction to the good news.
Upon the conclusion of Wednesday’s press conference, Mr. Tulante, now a private citizen, told me that from the onset it was clear that the federal government, which was aiming to impose immigration-related conditions to the Edward Bryne Memorial Justice Grant, was overreaching.
“We recognized that there are limits to what the Department of Justice can do,” Mr. Tulante, who today spoke exclusively to Techbook Online, said.
Mr. Pratt offered similar commentary.
“We thought that everything the Attorney General had done, with respect to this grant, was unconstitutional and violated several federal statutes.”
The grant in question is worth $1.6 million and a sizable portion has been allocated to purchase Narcan, which can treat opioid overdoses.
A federal judge ruled on this issue in November of 2017 but the Department of Justice in January filed an appeal to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court. That same U.S. District Judge, Mr. Michael Baylson, again ruled in Philadelphia’s favor. And though other cities have pursued similar lawsuits, Wednesday’s ruling is exclusive to Philadelphia.
The federal court has made it safer for immigrants to be here, said the mayor, who on his first day in office, back in 2016, signed an Executive Order declaring Philadelphia a sanctuary city.
The Department of Justice has a right to appeal the decision again. And though the judge ordered the City of Philadelphia to come up with a plan to obtain the grant, the DOJ can file a number of motions to try and tie up the judge’s order, said Mr. Pratt.
Nonetheless, Mayor Jim Kenney hailed the judge’s ruling as “a total and complete victory.”
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