California’s Ban On Private Prisons Has Been Ruled Unconstitutional

The en banc Ninth Circuit ruled Monday that California legislation prohibiting all private prisons in the state improperly inserts the state into immigration regulation, which is the federal government’s domain.

According to the opinion of Judge Jacqueline H. Nguyen, Immigration and Customs Enforcement oversees the extended detention of immigrants in California and almost exclusively uses privately owned detention facilities. According to Nguyen, California’s legislation requires ICE to entirely transform its approach to imprisonment in the state.

According to the court, the supremacy clause prohibits states from controlling federal government operations. Although the condition can regulate private contractors, it claims that, in this case, the regulation overrides federal government decisions, which violates the supremacy clause.

According to the court, California’s legislation is also preempted because states cannot control federal operations.

The opinion was joined by Judges Sandra S. Ikuta, John B. Owens, Ryan D. Nelson, Kenneth K. Lee, and Danielle J. Forrest. Judges Milan D. Smith Jr. and Paul J. Watford participated in all but the preemption debate.

Chief Judge Mary H. Murguia, joined in her dissent by Judges Johnnie B. Rawlinson and Jennifer Sung, stated that California’s legislation is valid because it “neither directly regulates nor discriminates against the federal government.” According to Murguia, the legislation also overcomes the presumption against preemption.

The Department of Justice represented the federal government. Cooper & Kirk PLLC, Newmeyer & Dillion LLP, and Navigato & Battin LLP represented the private prison company. The California Attorney General’s Office represented the state.

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