It’s in the hands of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals three-judge panel.
Arizonians just saw the 9th Circuit Court strike down a law that state residents voted in favor of – making residents prove their citizenship in order to register to vote. Now the same three-judge panel will decide if controversial immigration law SB1070 stands up to the 9th Circuit legal muster.
The uber-liberal court heard arguments today about why it should or shouldn’t overturn an Arizona federal judge’s ruling that invalidated key portions of Arizona’s immigration law that would force state agencies to enforce existing federal immigration law.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s attorney John Bouma, told the court Congress has tougher penalties for immigration than Arizona does and the state only wants the federal government to enforce the law.
“Arizona is trying to deal with the problems that arise from a federal immigration system that even President Obama acknowledges is broken,” Bouma said.
The tough new immigration bill SB1070 was signed into law in April, and before the ink was dry, the state faced multiple federal lawsuits.
The bulk of the lawsuits from the federal government argue the immigration regulation is a jurisdiction of the government in Washington D.C. However, activists are worried about the possibility of racial profiling which could lead to the violation of an individual’s constitutional rights inside the state of Arizona.
Department of Justice attorney Edwin Kneedler argued that the treatment of foreign nationals within U.S. borders is a big part of foreign relations and worried that a patchwork of state laws could hinder this aspect of the Obama Administration’s role in foreign relations.
However, the judges questioned the governments’ argument regarding law enforcement officer’s inability to decipher a person’s rights and how they would investigate legal status of persons inside the U.S.
“Indeed, one of the purposes for the adoption of the Constitution was a concern that individual states might embroil the entire nation in disputes with other countries,” Kneedler said.
State Senator Russell Pearce, who authored SB1070, said he thought Arizona’s argument “went fairly well.”
“We know this will survive,” Pearce said. “This is the most overturned court in the nation. We’ll win it in the Supreme Court.” Whoever looses this case has promised to take it to the Supreme Court for a final ruling.
Arizona’s argument has consistently been that the federal government will not enforce immigration law therefore leaving the enforcement in the hands of the state. However the Justice Department believes SB1070 law is unconstitutional and it infringes on federal law.
A federal appeals court reviewing Arizona’s immigration law appeared to lean or permit the state to require police to investigate the immigration status of people they have legally stopped. At the same time it appeared to reject more punitive provisions giving the state enforcement powers.
The three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco appeared likely to rule that Arizona may require police in certain situations to investigate a person’s immigration status as long as there is reasonable cause to suspect a crime has been committed.
The San Francisco legal panel also agreed with a lower court ruling that some provisions of Arizona’s law were “preempted” by the federal government’s sole authority to regulate immigration.
The court seemed likely to reject certain provisions like making it a crime for a people to not carry immigration papers on them at all times.
Governor Jan Brewer blasted the federal government for not enforcing the immigration law and securing the borders; “We are seeing people still afraid down along the southern border who do not feel safe in their homes. It’s just something we cannot and will not tolerate,” she said after the court hearing in San Francisco.
Brewer said she was confident the judges would look at the case fairly. “Although the judges asked challenging questions of both sides during this morning’s hearing, we are hopeful that after carefully considering the arguments, the Ninth Circuit will lift the stay and allow SB 1070 to be enforced,” Brewer said in a statement.
The Ninth Circuit put an injunction on SB1070, which holds the law temporarily, in place and will make their ruling in the next several weeks.