Arizona’s lawless legislature continues its losing streak in court over its anti-immigrant laws

gavelLast month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sitting en banc struck down Proposition 100 (2006), which amended the Arizona Constitution to deny bond to undocumented immigrants charged with “serious” crimes. The case is Angel Lopez-Valenzuela v. Joe Arpaio, (No. 11-16487). You can read the Opinion Here (.pdf).

The en banc Court reversed a three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit upholding the district court’s grant of summary judgment. Prop. 100 “violates the substantive component of the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.”

On Friday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy temporarily blocked implementation of the ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Kennedy gave no reason for his order. Reversal of Arizona’s immigrant no-bail law blocked:

Friday’s order is at least an interim victory for Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery who has been defending the law.

He contends there are legitimate reasons to conclude that those accused of certain serious crimes who are in the country illegally are less likely to show up for trial. And Montgomery said the 9th Circuit got it wrong in concluding such a blanket rule is unconstitutional.

But the stay may be brief. Kennedy gave the American Civil Liberties Union, which is challenging the law, until the end of the day Monday to convince him and his colleagues that the high court should stay out of the fight.

Another anti-immigrant law from Arizona was struck down on Friday by the U.S. District Court for Arizona.  Another Arizona Immigration Law Struck Down:

A ruling Friday that struck down the state’s 2005 immigrant smuggling law marks the latest in a string of restrictions placed by the courts on Arizona’s effort to get local police to take action on illegal immigration. The smuggling law, like similar state statutes, was tossed because a judge concluded it conflicted with the federal government’s immigration powers.

“There may be some broad sympathy within a constituency for these laws, but that constituency isn’t enough to overcome the problems those laws pose,” Peter Spiro, a Temple University law professor who specializes in immigration law.

For years in Arizona, many officials resisted suggestions that local and state police agencies confront illegal immigration, long considered the sole province of the federal government. But the notion gained political traction as voters grew frustrated over the state’s status as the nation’s then-busiest immigrant smuggling hub and over what critics said was inadequate border protection by Washington.

A small number of the state’s immigration laws have been upheld, including a key section of Arizona’s landmark 2010 immigration enforcement law that requires police to check people’s immigration status under certain circumstances. But the courts have slowly dismantled other Arizona laws and policies.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton on Friday threw out the smuggling law as part of the Obama administration’s challenge of the state’s 2010 immigration law, which made a minor change to the 2005 statute. The dispute over the smuggling law is all that remains of the administration’s challenge of the 2010 law.

Gov. Jan Brewer’s office, the chief defender of the 2010 law, didn’t immediately respond to messages left Saturday.

Jonathan “Payday” Paton, then a state representative from Legislative District 30 in 2005, was one of the smuggling law’s top sponsors, using this anti-immigrant bill for notoriety to position himself for a run for higher office. In typical sore-loser fashion, Paton responded to Judge Bolton’s ruling saying “It basically shows this administration has no intention to enforce its own laws or let the state enforce its laws.”

The Arizona Republic adds, Arizona’s immigrant smuggling law struck down:

The law came under heavy criticism after more than 2,000 immigrants who paid to be sneaked into the country were charged with conspiring to smuggle themselves across the border.

Critics said the law was intended for the smugglers, not their customers. Last year, a different federal judge barred the tactic, ruling that the policy criminalizes actions that the federal law treats as a civil matter. County officials agreed to drop their appeal of that ruling.

Back to the report above . . .

The U.S. Justice Department, which pressed the challenge on behalf of the Obama administration, issued a statement saying it was pleased with Friday’s ruling.

The smuggling law had been used frequently in Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s trademark immigration efforts, though the courts have curbed his immigration powers during the 17 last months.

It came under heavy criticism after more than 2,000 immigrants who paid to be sneaked into the country were charged with conspiring to smuggle themselves across the border. Critics said the law was intended for the smugglers, not their customers.

“I will wait to see what the outcome of this case will be,” Arpaio said in a statement about Friday’s ruling.

During the past 18 months, Arizona has seen a growing list of its immigration laws and policies that have been rejected by the courts.

A federal judge ruled that Arpaio’s office, which made immigration enforcement one of its top priorities, systematically racially profiled Latinos in its immigration and regular traffic patrols — a finding that the sheriff vigorously disputes.

This summer, a federal appeals court ruled the state cannot deny driver’s licenses to young immigrants who are allowed to stay in the U.S. under a 2012 Obama administration policy.

Three weeks ago, an appeals court struck down a 2006 voter-approved law that denies bail to immigrants who are in the country illegally and have been charged with a range of felonies that include shoplifting, aggravated identity theft, sexual assault and murder.

County officials are appealing that decision, and the U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily put the ruling on hold until it decides whether to delay implementation of the decision on a more long-term basis.

The last surviving part of SB 1070, the “show me your papers” provision, is the subject of a separate lawsuit filed in September. ACLU Files First Lawsuit Challenging Officers’ Use of SB 1070 “Show Me Your Papers” Law.

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