Orrick had a valid reason for issuing a preliminary injunction. Reuters reports that Orrick said in a statement that “the Counties have demonstrated that the Executive Order has caused and will cause them constitutional injuries by violating the separation of powers doctrine and depriving them of their Tenth and Fifth Amendment rights.”
Business Insider adds that Orrick also looked to halt the executive order in April.
While Orrick’s injunction is still preliminary—meaning this petition still needs to a vote to meet a final determination before the block on Trump’s order becomes permanent— the person seeking preliminary injunctions still needs to be able to prove a list of criteria (in regards to whatever the injunction is meant to restrain). Essentially, the preliminary injunction needs to prove that without this legal case, the face irreversible damage.
Obviously, the Trump administration isn’t very happy to see their order barred. Devin O’Malley, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice, said in a statement, “The district court exceeded its authority today when it barred the president from instructing his cabinet members to enforce existing law.”
However, the district court isn’t abusing their power. Instead, Orrick used his power to stop a potentially harmful order (after all, the U.S. government is meant to have a series of checks and balances). While O’Malley argues that Orrick is obstructing the Trump administration from enforcing the law and justice, Orrick is simply preventing Trump from issuing an executive order without question. After all, the Trump administration can still appeal the preliminary injunction.
Although appealing a preliminary injunction is difficult and unusual, it is still possible. Even if the Trump administration doesn’t successfully fight the preliminary injunction, they can still contest the final decision of the injunction.
Regardless, Orrick wouldn’t have challenged Trump’s executive order against sanctuary cities if he didn’t feel it was necessary. After all, sanctuary cities protect undocumented citizens and Trump’s order could make it easier for ICE to hold undocumented immigrants (who are suspected of committing a crime), which is unconstitutional.