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Immigration Law

Supreme Court To Review Obama Lawsuit Against Arizona

DENVER - The decision of the Supreme Court of the United States on Dec. 12 to review a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that an Arizona law adopted to address the impacts of illegal immigration is unconstitutional was welcomed by a nonprofit, public-interest legal foundation with decades of experience in constitutional and immigration issues.

Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF), in a friend of the court brief, had urged the Court to review an April 2011 ruling of a three-judge panel, which, by 2-1, upheld an earlier Arizona federal court's decision that portions of S.B. 1070 are unconstitutional.  The panel's ruling concerned a lawsuit filed by the Obama Administration that followed similar lawsuits by the ACLU, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), NAACP, and others.  In July 2010, the Arizona court agreed with federal lawyers that the Arizona law conflicts with federal law and was preempted.  MSLF also supported Arizona at the Ninth Circuit.

"The Court's decision to hear this case is all the more welcomed because of recent lawsuits filed by the Obama Administration against other States," said William Perry Pendley, MSLF president. "The law enacted by Arizona conflicts not with federal law but with President Obama's policies."

On April 23, 2010, Arizona Governor Janice K. Brewer signed Arizona S.B. 1070 into law. Arizona House Bill 2162 made additional changes to S.B. 1070 and was signed by Governor Brewer on April 30, 2010.  The intent of S.B. 1070 is, through "cooperative enforcement of federal immigration laws" "to make attrition through enforcement the public policy of all state and local government agencies in Arizona" and "to discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens and economic activity by persons unlawfully present in the United States."

After passage of S.B. 1070, seven lawsuits were filed challenging its constitutionality. The lawsuit filed on July 6, 2010, by the United States seeks a declaration that some provisions of S.B. 1070 are unconstitutional because they are preempted by federal law. Concurrently, the United States filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction seeking to enjoin all those provisions until the district court could issue a final decision on the merits.

On July 28, 2010, the district court granted the United States' motion, in part, and preliminarily enjoined various provisions of S.B. 1070.  On July 29, 2010, Arizona and Governor Brewer appealed to the Ninth Circuit.  Oral arguments were conducted on November 1, 2010, and, on April 11, 2011, the three-judge panel ruled against Arizona.  On August 10, 2011, Arizona and Governor Brewer sought Supreme Court review.

Mountain States Legal Foundation, founded in 1977, is a nonprofit, public-interest legal foundation dedicated to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and the free enterprise system.  Its offices are in suburban Denver, Colorado.

United States v. State of Arizona, United States Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit, Case No. 16645