FEBRUARY 14, 2012
Judicial Watch 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.