Ninth Circuit Upholds Injunction Against Arizona Immigration Law

April 11, 2011 10:58 am

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday struck down Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s appeal of a preliminary injunction against the state’s controversial immigration law, upholding the decision by a District Court judge to block key parts of the law until the Justice Department’s lawsuit against it is decided.Reuters reports that the Ninth Circuit “ruled that a lower court did not abuse its authority by enjoining key sections of the state law that were challenged by the Obama administration.”

The DOJ filed a lawsuit in July against SB 1070, Arizona’s immigration law that Brewer signed last April. The legislation was incredibly controversial for its provision requiring law enforcement to demand immigration papers from anyone they have a “reasonable suspicion” of being in the country illegally. Critics call that an invitation to racial profiling.

The Justice Department argues that the federal district court should “declare invalid and preliminarily and permanently enjoin the enforcement of S.B. 1070” because it violates the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. “In our constitutional system, the federal government has preeminent authority to regulate immigration matters,” the lawsuit says.

District Judge Susan Bolton issued the preliminary injunction against several parts of the law last July, including the “reasonable suspicion” provision, until the Obama’s DOJ’s lawsuit is decided on its merits. The law was originally scheduled to go into effect on July 29th, 2010.

“Preserving the status quo through a preliminary injunction is less harmful than allowing state laws that are likely pre-empted by federal law to be enforced,” the New York Times reports Bolton as writing in her ruling.

She also wrote that “there is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens,” and that the law imposes a “‘distinct, unusual and extraordinary’ burden on legal resident aliens that only the federal government has the authority to impose,” indicating that for the most part she sided with the DOJ’s arguments.

Brewer appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit, but at the time dismissed what this means for the case. “The fact of the matter is this is just an injunction,” she told the Arizona Republic. “We need to go through the court process so the merits of the bill can be debated. I am sure as we go through the process, we’ll get a fair hearing.”

Brewer also filed a countersuit against the federal government in February, arguing that it has not protected her state from an “invasion” of illegal immigrants.

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