A Federal Judge Blocks Parts of Arizona's Immigration Law

Arizona illegal immigration law protestEditor's note: This story was updated on July 29 to correct a quote from Representative Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.)

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton threw a monkey wrench into the deeply contentious debate over illegal immigration by declaring parts of Arizona's controversial immigration law to be unconstitutional. She based her decision on the bedrock legal principal that federal laws preempt state laws. Arizona's law was scheduled to go into effect on July 29.

"The Court by no means disregards Arizona's interests in controlling illegal immigration and addressing the concurrent problems with crime including the trafficking of humans, drugs, guns, and money," she wrote. "Even though Arizona's interests may be consistent with those of the federal government, it is not in the public interest for Arizona to enforce preempted law."

The U.S. Department of Justice hailed the ruling as a victory for common sense. It has argued that had the law stood as passed, it could have led to the creation of 50 different state immigration laws, a legal nightmare for all involved and counterproductive. Moreover, the U.S. couldn't deport all of the undocumented workers even if it wanted to because there are so many of them.

"The law is clearly unconstitutional," says Cecellia Wang, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. "Everyone in Arizona can breathe a sigh of relief."

Backers: The State Will Prevail

Reaction from conservatives was swift. Rep. Darrell Isa (R-Calif.), who funded the recall campaign of then California Gov. Grey Davis (D) a few years ago, said the decision was "beyond absurd" and should be overturned.

The issue likely will be a focal point in Arizona politics. Sen. John McCain faces a tough challenge from former Congressman J.D. Hayworth, who recently noted: "The federal government has failed to protect the people of Arizona from illegal aliens, so the state government, quite sensibly, moved to fill the void. "

Governor Jan Brewer, whose Democratic challenger Attorney General Terry Goddard opposed the law and the federal lawsuit challenging it, and State Sen. Russell Pearce, the bill's author, were its main backers. Both said they were confident the state would prevail.

"I am disappointed by Judge Susan Bolton's ruling," Brewer said in a statement. "For anyone willing to see it -- the crisis is as clear as is the federal government's failure to address it." Said Representative Ann Kirkpatrick (D) in a statement:
"The courts may have ruled in favor of the federal government today, but the legal wrangling is just beginning. We have months and months of courtroom battles ahead of us, and Arizona's taxpayers are being forced to fund both sides -- that is money that should be going toward protecting our communities." (An earlier version of the story incorrectly attibuted the following statement to Kirkpatrick: "And at the end of what is certain to be a long legal struggle, Arizona will prevail in its right to protect our citizens.")

Backers of the law say its impact has been overblown by its many detractors. "If law enforcement could not stop someone before this law, they cannot stop them now," Pearce writes on his Web site. "If you did not have to carry ID before this law, you don't have to carry ID under this new law. We did not expand law enforcement authority or require any 'new' requirements or put new conditions on citizens. We simply took the handcuffs off from law enforcement and allow them to enforce our immigration laws, like any other law."

Kirkpatrick is surely right about at least one thing: The fight is far from over.

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It is harder to read, and will take time to get used to, let's see what happens, would not be surprised if some think of a way around the rating, but I like this thumbs up/down jazz. :)

July 29 2010 at 11:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Who gave me a thumbs down to the phrase Good Morning! Geesh!!!

July 29 2010 at 11:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Obama - Going against the will of 'We The People' on a daily basis"

July 29 2010 at 11:06 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jtonkins's comment

I see you figured it out!!!! :)

July 29 2010 at 11:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yes parts were blcoked, but those parts the cop are already doing, I would think when they pull someone over they check for ID. Let's hope the crackdown on employers of illegals goes Full Throttle.

July 29 2010 at 10:57 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

testing, sabah el krear!

July 29 2010 at 10:55 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Just another day full of arrogance for the people of this country. The federal judge that tells the people that they don't, have the right to enforce laws already on the books. She needs to be thrown out of this position, and the people of arizona should be allowed to protect themselves from the radical take over of illegal immigrants/ to this country. We would not be able, to do this in the countrys, where these people came from; Why should we allow it here. Just more of the same, government failure to protect its own citizens. and the people who wan't to come here the right way.

July 29 2010 at 10:10 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

People are going to get silly and not realize it is okay to lose a battle in order to win a war.

First, the judges ruling brings the immigration issue to the forefront in states that are not having "illegal" issues.

Second, the federal case is still to be heard: In the likely event Arizona wins, the Feds will take the case to the Supreme Court ... where it belongs. In the unlikely event the Feds win, Arizona, too, will appeal the case to the Supreme Court ... where it belongs.

Based on recent similar case law, Arizona will win by a 5-4 ruling. Case closed.

July 29 2010 at 10:06 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply