If you've been reading this space for some time, then you know how active JW has been in the legal battle over SB 1070, Arizona's illegal immigration enforcement law. In the past we have represented former Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, the author of the law, as well as the Arizona State Legislature in the Obama administration's legal attack against SB 1070.
And this week we filed two separate amicus curiae briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of SB 1070 (which is also known as the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act).
How did this get to the High Court?
On April 11, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld an injunction against the enforcement of some of the law's provisions per the request of the Obama administration, thus prompting the State of Arizona to petition the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments in the SB 1070 case for April 25, 2012, the Court's last day of hearings for the current term.
We filed one brief on behalf of former Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce and a separate brief on behalf of State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI). (The latter amicus brief, on behalf of SLLI, was joined by 29 legislators from 20 states.)
In both briefs, Judicial Watch argues that SB 1070 utilizes the state of Arizona's well-established police powers and is, therefore, not pre-empted by federal law as the Obama administration maintains. Judicial Watch asks the Supreme Court to reverse the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling which placed key provisions of SB 1070 on hold:
S.B. 1070 does not regulate immigration or naturalization. It does not control who may enter the United States or the conditions under which lawfully present aliens may remain in the United States or become naturalized citizens. Nor does it purport to define any alien's legal status or deport unlawfully present aliens from the United States. It merely authorizes and directs Arizona's state and local law enforcement officers to communicate and cooperate with federal officials regarding the enforcement of federal immigration law and creates disincentives for unlawfully present aliens who do not comply with federal law to enter or remain in Arizona...Therefore, this Court should reverse the Ninth Circuit's decision and hold that S.B. 1070 is not preempted by federal law.
Specifically, with our brief filed on behalf of Pearce, we maintain the four provisions put on hold by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit should be reinstated because they would "significantly assist Arizona's effort to protect its citizens from the adverse effects of illegal immigration." Here's what these provisions will do once enforced:
- Provide additional guidance to Arizona law enforcement officers as to how to interact with individuals who may not be lawfully present.
- Invoke ordinary state police powers to create state criminal penalties for the failure to comply with federal law.
- Utilize Arizona's broad authority to regulate employment under its police powers to protect its economy and lawfully resident labor force from the harmful effects resulting from the employment of unlawfully present aliens.
- Re-emphasize Arizona law enforcement officers' pre-existing warrantless arrest authority by authorizing a warrantless arrest of an individual who has already been determined to have committed a public offense that makes that person removable.
By way of review, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law on April 23, 2010. On July 6, 2010, the Obama Department of Justice filed a lawsuit challenging the law and requested a preliminary injunction to prevent the law from being enforced.
On July 28, 2010, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton allowed key provisions of the law to be enacted, while granting the Obama administration an injunction on other provisions until the Court could determine whether these provisions are constitutional. On April 11, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the lower court's injunction, prompting the State of Arizona to petition the U.S. Supreme Court.
Now, as with Obamacare, the High Court will decide the fate of SB 1070.
Of course, we have made our views on the matter crystal clear: The Obama administration's hostility toward enforcement of federal immigration law is dangerous and unlawful. The Obama administration's attacks on states that try to enforce illegal immigration laws undermine our nation's constitutional order. We hope the U.S. Supreme Court affirms the right of the state of Arizona and other states across America to protect citizens from the scourge of rampant illegal immigration.
SB 1070 is lawful and should be upheld in its entirety.
And kudos to the work of our legal team on these important Supreme Court matters. As you might imagine, to get three separate briefs ready for the Supreme Court at the same time is no small task. Our Judicial Watch attorneys, led by my colleague Paul Orfanedes (JW's Director of Civil Litigation), are second to none in their legal acumen, hard work, and commitment to our cause defending the rule of law and U.S. Constitution.