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Judicial Watch, former Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce and State Legislators for Legal Immigration Ask Court to Reverse Appellate Court Ruling Placing Key Provisions on Hold

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and fights government corruption, announced today that it has filed two separate amicus curiae briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of SB 1070, also known as the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act.  On April 11, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld an injunction against enforcement of some of the law’s provisions per the request of the Obama administration, prompting the State of Arizona to petition the High Court (State of Arizona et al., v. The United States of America). 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.

Judicial Watch filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of former Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, author of SB 1070, and a separate brief on behalf of State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI).  The 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 placing 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,” Judicial Watch argued in its brief filed on behalf of the State Legislators for Legal Immigration. “Therefore, this Court should reverse the Ninth Circuit’s decision and hold that S.B. 1070 is not preempted by federal law.”

With its brief filed on behalf of former Arizona State Senator Pearce, Judicial Watch maintains 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.”  Specifically, these provisions:

  • 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.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law on April 23, 2010. On July 6, 2010, the Obama Justice Department filed a lawsuit challenging the law and requested a preliminary injunction to prevent the law from being enforced (USA v. The State of Arizona, et al., No. 10-1413). 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.

“The Obama administration’s hostility to enforcing federal immigration law is dangerous and unlawful,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “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.”

HHS “trying to defend a provision in an act passed by Congress that exceeds its enumerated powers.”

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch, the organization that investigates and fights government corruption, announced today that it filed an amicus curiae brief on February 13, 2012, with the United States Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare (United States Department of Health and Human Services, et al., State of Florida, et al. (No. 11-398)). The Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for the Obamacare case on March 26, 27 and 28, 2012.

With its amicus curiae brief Judicial Watch maintains that the “individual mandate” provision of Obamacare, which requires every American citizen to purchase health care insurance or pay a penalty, is unconstitutional, whether considered under Congress’ commerce power or taxing power:

Petitioners are trying to defend a provision in an act passed by Congress that exceeds its enumerated powers. Though Congress enacted this provision under the Commerce Clause, Congress’ power under the clause is not broad enough to compel Americans to engage in commerce by purchasing a particular product. Though Petitioners try to rescue the provision by arguing that it is valid under Congress’ taxing power even if it is invalid under Congress’ commerce power, a provision of an act that is not a tax may not be construed as a tax merely to save it from being declared unconstitutional.

Judicial Watch further argues that if the Supreme Court affirms the constitutionality of the so-called individual mandate, “it must be willing to hold that Congress’ powers under the Commerce clause are plenary and unlimited, for there remains no principled way to limit Congress’ power if it is stretched as far as Petitioners (the Obama administration) ask.”

The Judicial Watch amicus was filed in support of a challenge to Obamacare by Florida and 25 other states.

Demonstrating the importance of the legal battle over Obamacare, the Supreme Court will hear five-and-a-half hours of oral argument, a rare allotment of time in the court’s modern era. The Supreme Court’s scrutiny will focus on the constitutionality of the Obamacare individual mandate. The court will also consider whether other components of Obamacare could take effect even if the individual mandate is ruled unconstitutional, among other issues.

In a December 14, 2010, editorial published in The Washington Post Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius argued that the individual mandate is essential to Obamacare: “Without an individual responsibility provision (or mandate), controlling costs and ending discrimination against people with preexisting conditions doesn’t work.”

“The President’s socialist healthcare overhaul is an affront to the U.S. Constitution’s provisions for limited government,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The time has come for the U.S. Supreme Court to put an end to Obamacare once and for all.”

Judicial Watch Brief Supports Lawsuit Filed by State of Louisiana which Lost a Seat in the House of Representatives due to Census Bureau’s Unlawful Policy

 (Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch, the organization that investigates and fights government corruption, announced today that it filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the State of Louisiana challenging a current federal policy in which “unlawfully present aliens” were counted in the 2010 Census (Louisiana v. Bryson).

The government used these census numbers to reapportion seats in the House of Representatives and, as a result, the State of Louisiana lost a House seat to which it was entitled.  Louisiana is asking that the Supreme Court order the federal government to recalculate the 2010 apportionment of House seats based upon legal residents as the U.S. Constitution requires.

Judicial Watch’s brief was filed on January 13, 2012, in partnership with the Allied Educational Foundation (AEF) in a lawsuit filed by the State of Louisiana against John Bryson, U.S. Secretary of Commerce; Robert Groves, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau; and Karen Lehman Hass, Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.  According to the brief:

Amici are concerned about the failure to enforce the nation’s immigration laws and the corrosive effect of this failure on our institutions and the rule of law.  Among the problems caused by this failure is a redistribution of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives to States with large populations of unlawfully present aliens.

Amici respectfully submit that neither Article I Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, the Fourteenth Amendment, or any other provision of the Constitution authorize or permit the inclusion of unlawfully present aliens in the apportionment process.  As a result, this case raises issues critical not just to Louisiana, but to every State, every American citizen, and our federal system of government.

Judicial Watch argues that due to this Census Bureau policy at least five states will lose House seats to which they are entitled.  For example, based upon the Census Bureau’s calculation, Louisiana is being allocated only six House seats, as opposed to the seven that it would have been apportioned, were it not for the inclusion of illegal aliens and “non-immigrant foreign nationals,” encompassing holders of student visas and guest workers.  The brief also notes that the “apportionment, in turn, determines the apportionment of electors in the Electoral College for the next three presidential elections.”

It is the contention of the State of Louisiana, Judicial Watch and AEF that “the policy of counting unlawfully present aliens in the nation’s decennial census is unconstitutional and undermines both our federal system of government and our democratic institutions,” and is the “direct result of the failure to enforce our nation’s immigration laws.”

“The U.S. Census Bureau’s policy of counting illegal aliens is unconstitutional and it distorts the democratic process,” said Tom Fitton, President of Judicial Watch.  “Moreover, the Obama administration’s hostility to enforcing illegal immigration laws will only make this problem worse as greater numbers of illegal aliens flood into the country.  Judicial Watch is pleased to join with the Allied Educational Foundation to file this amicus curiae brief in support of the State of Louisiana and the rule of law.  We hope the Supreme Court takes up this historic case and vindicates the right of American citizens to have full representation in Washington.”

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