SB `1070 Update: U.S. Department of Justice case goes to court today

Posted by AzBlueMeanmie:

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The U.S. Department of Justice challenge to SB 1070 has its first hearing in U.S. District Court today. Major SB 1070 challenges being heard today:

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton has scheduled a morning hearing on four requests in the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and several other civil-rights groups and individuals. Three requests from defendants seek to have the suit thrown out; one from the plaintiffs asks the judge for a preliminary injunction, blocking the law from taking effect.

In an afternoon hearing, Bolton will consider a request in a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, which also asks her to block the law.

Bolton held a similar hearing last Thursday in a lawsuit filed by Phoenix police Officer David Salgado but has not yet issued any rulings on those motions.

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Seven federal lawsuits are challenging the law, all alleging that it pre-empts federal law.

Bolton may issue a ruling from the bench today or take the arguments under advisement. It is unknown whether she would issue separate rulings for each case or a single ruling covering all the motions she will have heard in three cases.

What she decides could determine whether the law will be enforced. It is scheduled to take effect next Thursday.

The ACLU lawsuit is the largest challenging Senate Bill 1070 in terms of number of plaintiffs and defendants. It names officials from all Arizona's 15 counties as defendants and has 24 plaintiffs.

Fourteen of the plaintiffs are organizations and include the Service Employees International Union and the Scottsdale-based Arizona South Asians for Safe Families, which serves victims of domestic violence.

Ten plaintiffs are individuals. They include illegal immigrants; citizens who fear being stopped because of their race; religious and non-profit volunteers who worry about their interaction with illegal immigrants; and residents of New Mexico concerned that their driver's license may not be enough to prove citizenship because New Mexico does not require proof of legal status to get one.

The plaintiffs allege that SB 1070 interferes with federal authority, will lead to widespread racial profiling and will subject minorities, including U.S. citizens, to unlawful interrogations, searches, seizures and arrests.

Three motions to dismiss have been filed in this case: One by Pinal County Attorney James Walsh and Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu; one by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio; and one by Gov. Jan Brewer. All three argue that the plaintiffs have not shown that they face imminent harm from the enactment of SB 1070.

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The U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit is the most high-profile of the seven in terms of national attention and legal standing. While the other cases argue on behalf of the federal government that SB 1070 would pre-empt federal law, the Department of Justice case is the federal government speaking for itself.

The lawsuit claims the immigration law "will conflict and undermine the federal government's careful balance of immigration-enforcement priorities and objectives" and divert resources from the "dangerous aliens who the federal government targets as its top enforcement priority."

At today's hearing, Department of Justice attorneys from Washington, D.C., will ask for a preliminary injunction.

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Attorney Stephen Montoya, who represents David Salgado, filed a motion asking Bolton to consolidate the Salgado and Department of Justice cases.

The motion says the two cases assert identical claims, at least in terms of the pre-emption argument, and consolidation would avoid duplication and reduce legal costs.

Bolton has not yet ruled on that motion. On Tuesday, she denied a motion filed by the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona seeking to allow cameras in the courtroom to cover Thursday's hearing on the ACLU case.

In related news: GOP loses bid to block suit against Arizona law:

Senate Democrats on Wednesday turned back a move by Republicans to block the Justice Department from pursuing its lawsuit seeking to overturn Arizona's controversial immigration law.

The bid by South Carolina Republican Jim DeMint to nix the lawsuit came out on the losing end of a 55-43 vote. Five Democrats voted to block the lawsuit while two Republicans voted against the measure.

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Democrats voting to block the lawsuit were: Max Baucus and John Tester of Montana; Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas; and Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Republicans Mike Johann of Nebraska and George Voinovich of Ohio broke with their party in voting against the amendment.

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