The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld most of California’s “sanctuary state” laws on Thursday, dealing another setback to the Trump administration in its effort to challenge the laws.

Last March, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions traveled to California personally to challenge three main “sanctuary state” laws in a federal lawsuit filed in Sacramento. The three laws are: the Inspection and Review of Facilities Housing Federal Detainees law (AB 103); the Immigrant Worker Protection Act (AB 450); and the California Values Act (SB 54). The U.S. Department of Justice sought a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of the laws.

In July 2018, a federal district judge upheld AB 103 and SB 54, but blocked enforcement of portions of AB 450 that applied monetary penalties to employers who complied with the federal government’s efforts to inspect workplaces to determine the immigration status of employees.

The Department of Justice filed an appeal, and the answer came Thursday from the Ninth Circuit, widely considered the most liberal of all the appellate courts.

A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit upheld the lower court’s ruling — although it did reverse one small part of its ruling on AB 103, finding that “12532(b)(1)(C), which requires examination of the circumstances surrounding the apprehension and transfer of immigration detainees,” placed an impermissible burden on the federal government.

The opinion was written by Judge Milan D. Smith, Jr., a George W. Bush appointee.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued a statement in response that focused, somewhat bizarrely, on the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller: “As much as all the attention is on whether Donald Trump obstructed justice, we continue to prove in California that the rule of law not only stands for something but that people cannot act outside of it. The Ninth Circuit ruled in our favor today, demonstrating that the rights of states and the 10th Amendment continue to thrive.”

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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