By William Perry Pendley
DENVER - The Supreme Court of the United States on June 25 unanimously upheld an Arizona law that allows law enforcement officers to determine the immigration status of individuals they stop who are suspected of being in the country illegally (Arizona v. United States, No. 11-182, U.S. Sup. [enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers]).
In so ruling, the court reversed a ruling by a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit three-judge panel, as urged by Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) (United States v. State of Arizona, No. 16645, 9th Cir. [enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers]). In its friend of the court brief, MSLF asked the Court to reverse the April 2011 ruling, which, by 2-1, upheld an Arizona federal district court's ruling that parts of S.B. 1070 are unconstitutional. Earlier, MSLF had asked the Supreme Court to review the ruling, which came in a lawsuit by the Obama Administration that followed lawsuits by the ACLU, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the NAACP, and others. In July 2010, the Arizona federal district court, disregarding a brief by MSLF, agreed with federal lawyers that the law conflicts with federal law and was preempted. By a vote of 5-3, the Court today held that three minor parts of S.B. 1070 are preempted by federal law.
"We are pleased that the Court upheld the most important aspect of S.B. 1070-the right of law enforcement to check for citizenship and to seek to ensure the safety of citizens," said William Perry Pendley, MSLF president.
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.
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