Federal judge tosses Paxton’s preemptive SB4 lawsuit

Federal judge tosses Paxton's preemptive SB4 lawsuit

By Andrea Zelinski

AUSTIN — A U.S. District judge dismissed Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s preemptive lawsuit against the city of Austin Wednesday, saying it would not engage in “hypothetical legal questions” to declare Texas’ anti-“sanctuary city” law constitutional.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks, of the Western District of Texas in Austin, said in a ruling filed Wednesday every government faces the threat that someone could challenge the constitutional validity of a law.

To allow those governments to preemptively ask the courts to weigh in “would be to ‘open a Pandora’s box and invite every local government to seek a court’s judicial blessing’ on a law prior to it taking effect,” he said in his ruling, which he signed Tuesday.

State lawmakers passed Senate Bill 4 in the regular legislative session that would punish sheriffs and police chiefs with jail time if they refuse to cooperate with federal detainer requests to hold documents believed to be undocumented. The law also allows law enforcement to question an individual’s legal status at routine stops.

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