The cities of Portland and Oakland, Ca., sued the U.S. Homeland Security and Justice departments, alleging both have engaged in unconstitutional overreach by sending in or threatening to use federal officers to quell social justice protests, The Oregonian reports. The suit cites dispatching federal officers “either secretly or with little warning” to Portland, the continued authorizing of deputy U.S. marshal status to Portland police despite the city’s objections, deploying federal officers to non-federal property with “virtually limitless jurisdiction” and erecting a fence around the Portland federal courthouse in a city right-of-way without a permit. Oakland joined the suit partly to thwart the possibility that the federal government would deputize its police officers.
The cities allege President Donald Trump has violated the anti-commandeering rule, which says the federal government can’t require states or its officials to enforce federal law. The federal practices mark a “monumental policy change” that harms the cities’ abilities to govern safely and has stirred further civil unrest, the suit says. Past local collaborations with federal law enforcement have been voluntary and consensual, the suit notes. The suit was filed in federal court in San Francisco. Protests have occurred almost nightly for four and a half months in Portland since shortly after the May 25 death of George Floyd. A Homeland Security spokesman said, “Yet again, dangerous politicians and fringe special interest groups have ginned up a meritless lawsuit. They aim to harm President Trump and distract from his law and order agenda. Department of Homeland Security have acted entirely lawfully.” The deputization of 56 Portland officers and 22 county deputies is set to last until Dec. 31 despite Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s request to halt the designation.