US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Arizona's anti-immigration law held up in court

By Father Tom Joyce, CMF | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

An Appeals court panel ruled that Arizona cannot yet fully enforce the controversial immigration law SB1070, especially those features that directed law officers to detain anyone they suspected of being an undocumented alien.

The three-member panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a temporary injunction of a federal district judge in Arizona. This stay is a major victory for the Justice Department and immigration advocates who argued that the law was an infringement on an exclusive federal jurisdiction – determining who can be in this country and who cannot. One of the justices said SB1070 was creating an “Arizona Homeland Security,” and we can't have one in all 50 states.

The stay gives Judge Susan Bolton time to determine whether major provisions of the law are constitutional or not.

Proponents of the law, Arizona’s Attorney General, and State Senate President Russell Pearce (who drafted the law) can choose to ask all the 9th Circuit judges to hear the case or they can appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Their inclination is to go for broke. They think that, since the Supreme Court tends to overturn the decisions of the 9th Circuit more than other, there will a 5-4 split in favor of SB1070. But legal experts think not.

The court has already heard arguments on another Arizona law dealing with employer sanctions and a decision is expected later in the term. How the justices decide that one may indicate how that will handle an appeal of Bolton’s stay.

The court can simply vote not to accept the case, so that the 9th Circuit’s decision stands and Bolton will proceed to decide on the constitutionality of those parts of the law she held up. The Justice Department might ask her to make the injunction permanent. For details on the 9th Circuit Court’s decision, see The Arizona Republic. Meanwhile other states continue to work on SB1070 look-a-likes, often with minor changes. (See New York Times.)