Judicial Watch • The Latest from Arizona

The Latest from Arizona

The Latest from Arizona

JULY 23, 2010

July 23, 2010

From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:

AZ State Senator Pearce Asks Court to Decline Obama Attempt to Prevent AZ Law from Taking Effect

Judicial Watch is moving aggressively in its litigation on behalf of Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, author of the state’s tough new illegal immigration enforcement law, Senate Bill 1070. There simply is no time to waste. The law is set to take effect next week — unless, of course, the Obama administration is successful in its mission to thwart the rule of law. (You can check out last week’s Update for a quick review of the history behind the government’s lawsuit against Arizona and how all of this got started.)

As I told you last week, Sen. Pearce filed a “Motion for Intervention” with the United States Court for the District of Arizona, on July 14. Unsurprisingly, the Obama administration objects to Sen. Pearce’s legal effort to allow him the opportunity to defend the law he authored. (Click here to read Sen. Pearce’s reply.)

This week, Judicial Watch filed a memorandum on behalf of Sen. Pearce with the Court opposing the Obama Justice Department’s “Motion for Preliminary Injunction,” which would prevent sections of Pearce’s SB 1070 from taking effect on July 29. The federal court hearing considered the Obama administration’s challenges yesterday in Phoenix. Judicial Watch Director of Litigation Paul Orfanedes attended the hearing in person. (Paul’s initial analysis of the court proceedings is available on video here.)

According to Sen. Pearce’s memorandum that Paul and the JW legal team filed on July 20, 2010:

The law of this Circuit is clear. In 1983, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that nothing in federal law precludes a city from enforcing the criminal provisions of immigration law. Gonzalez v. City of Peoria, 722 F.2d 468, 476 (9th Cir. 1983). By enacting Senate Bill 1070, as amended by House Bill 2162 (“SB 1070”), the Arizona legislature simply codified already existing enforcement provisions of federal law that has been the law of the land in some regard for more than fifty years.

By seeking to enjoin Sections 1-6 of SB 1070 from taking effect, Plaintiff seeks to overturn 20 years of precedent. Plaintiff also asks that this Court ignore Congress’ intentions that states and localities play a vital role in immigration enforcement efforts…Plaintiff’s motion is without merit and a preliminary injunction is not warranted.

Here’s a statement Sen. Pearce issued on his new court filing to defend SB 1070:

As I’ve said all along, SB 1070 makes no new immigration law, it simply enforces the laws already on the books. Barack Obama has put politics before the safety of citizens of Arizona who are under the gun from the illegal alien crisis in our state. I refuse to apologize for standing up for America and the rule of law. I hope the Court does not allow the Obama administration to run roughshod over the rule of law.

Look, here’s the bottom line. As Sen. Pearce clearly demonstrated in his court filing, the Obama Justice Department’s lawsuit has absolutely nothing to do with the rule of law. The Obama White House is desperate to kill this law because the President knows if it is allowed to stand, other states will follow suit, and the federal government may finally have to do its job and secure the border — and securing the border is not on the President’s agenda.

President Obama and his appointee Eric Holder are letting politics get in the way of enforcing federal law. Let’s hope, for the sake of Arizona and for the sake of the country, the Court allows the AZ immigration law to take effect next week.

(If you have any doubt that this Obama effort is anything other than politics, take a look at this July 20 Washington Post front-page piece that details how Obama officials are salivating to use their anti-enforcement actions to gather Hispanic votes.)

Last week I said this was perhaps the most important litigation in Judicial Watch’s 16-year history. This is not hyperbole. What happens in Arizona impacts every state in the Union struggling with the devastating impact of rampant illegal immigration.

I’m not sure what the courts will do at this stage, but I think it is looking good for Arizona and the rule of law, as the federal judge hearing the Obama challenge yesterday expressed skepticism towards the Obama Justice Department’s contrived legal arguments. Whatever the court ruling, there will be more litigation and appeals. The Left will not give up. They control the Justice Department and have front groups (such as the ACLU) that will challenge strong immigration enforcement every which way they can.

You can be sure that Sen. Pearce will not shy from any legal fight and, with your help, we will stand by his side.

So stay tuned…

Judicial Watch Sues Pasadena Police Department for Records Detailing Illegal Alien Sanctuary Policy

Staying with the topic of illegal immigration, as you know, Judicial Watch has launched a nationwide campaign to enforce our nation’s immigration laws. So while we push forward with critical litigation in Arizona, we’re also keeping our eye on other illegal immigration hotspots around the country, like Pasadena, CA.

This week we filed an open records lawsuit against the Pasadena Police Department (PPD) and PPD Police Chief Christopher Vicino to obtain documents related to the department’s alleged illegal alien sanctuary policy.

Here’s what we’ve requested under the California Public Records Act:

  • Any and all records of PPD’s policies, procedures, or directives concerning, regarding, or relating to undocumented (illegal) aliens.
  • Any and all records of PPD’s policies, procedures, or directives concerning, regarding or relating to contacts or communications between PPD officers or employees and federal immigration officials regarding a person’s immigration status.

To date, we haven’t received any documents, and the PPD has given no indication if or when a response is forthcoming. That’s why we’re in court. In our view the citizens of Pasadena have every right to know if their own police department has enacted a policy that violates federal immigration law.

So why did Pasadena suddenly appear on Judicial Watch’s radar screen?

According to a May 16, 2010, issue of the Pasadena Star News commenting on the PPD’s illegal immigration policy: “[Vicino] said that the Pasadena Police Department has the policy of not asking about anybody’s legal status unless it is a matter of national security.” (The article is no longer available on the newspaper’s website, but you can access the “cache” file by clicking the link above.)

As I’ve covered previously, this type of sanctuary policy, which is far too prevalent across the country, is likely in direct violation of federal immigration law, which states:

Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal, State, or local law, a Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, Immigration and Naturalization Service (now Immigration and Customs Enforcement) information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, or any individual.

In other words, you can’t have local police departments going rogue, and deciding to ignore federal immigration law, no matter the reason.

But tell that to the police departments in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, Washington, DC, and all of the other illegal alien sanctuary cities we’re currently investigating.

And tell that to the Obama Justice Department.

As I reported to you last week, the Obama administration recently announced that it will not penalize so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with the federal government on immigration enforcement.

If the Pasadena Police Department has nothing to hide then why keep these records secret? The citizens of Pasadena have a right to know if their own police department has enacted a dangerous policy that violates federal immigration law.

It is beyond belief that the Obama Justice Department has decided to allow localities to violate federal immigration laws while suing a state such as Arizona that expressly upholds the law. This is the very definition of injustice.

But no matter what this politicized Justice Department says, the law is the law. And cities like Pasadena should not feel comfortable under the umbrella of protection they believe they have from the Obama Justice Department. We will go to court if necessary to hold them to account.

Time to Stop Kagan Nomination

Elena Kagan, perhaps the most unqualified Supreme Court nominee in modern history (not to mention flagrantly liberal) did manage to get her nomination out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Here’s the scoop from Fox News:

President Obama’s pick for Supreme Court Justice, Elena Kagan, got the go-ahead from the Senate Judiciary Committee. 13 for her, 6 against. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was the only Republican to vote for her. He said he believes she would serve the nation honorably.

Next up for Kagan: A full Senate vote. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) says he’ll schedule a debate and final vote for the first week in August.

On Monday, the day before the vote, I sent a letter to Senators Leahy and Sessions and the rest of the Senate Judiciary Committee expressing Judicial Watch’s deep concerns about this nomination. I am reprinting this letter in its entirety this week because it efficiently makes the case against Kagan. And because there is still time to stop this nomination!

One week can be an eternity in Washington, especially with the 24-hour news cycle. And in a battle over something as important as a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land, we should never stop fighting until the last vote is cast.

So, that said, here’s the text of our letter opposing the nomination:

Dear Chairman Leahy and Senator Sessions:

Judicial Watch is a non-partisan, educational foundation that advocates for transparency and accountability in government, politics, and the law.

Judicial Watch is America’s largest and most effective government watchdog, with nearly 200,000 active supporters who are committed to the rule of law.

On their behalf, I urge you to reject the nomination of Elena Kagan to the United States Supreme Court.

President Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court is irresponsible. Ms. Kagan is a liberal activist and political operative with no experience as a judge. A Supreme Court nominee ought to have significant practical experience as a lawyer or a judge — especially a nominee for the nation’s highest court. Her decision to throw military recruiters off the campus of Harvard Law School during a time of war shows she is far to the left of mainstream America.

The United States Senate should ensure that only a justice who will strictly interpret the U.S. Constitution is approved. There’s no reason to believe that Ms. Kagan meets this standard.

Her biography includes work for the campaigns of ardent liberals Elizabeth Holtzman and Michael Dukakis. She only practiced law a total of three years, one of them for the Clinton White House. She also clerked for the late Thurgood Marshall, one of the most activist Supreme Court members in recent history.

The rest of her career was spent working as a domestic policy aide in the Clinton White House and in academia, where she became the first female dean of Harvard Law School. Accordingly, barely four years (if one includes her on-the-job training as United States Solicitor General) of practical legal experience—and a few years clerking in the federal courts—is too little experience for the High Court.

And frankly, that she continued to work for former President Bill Clinton after he lied under oath is highly questionable. It may not be politically correct here in Washington to note that he abused his office and lied under oath. However, Judicial Watch believes that lawyers like Kagan need to account for why they continued to work for the impeached former President despite his contempt for the rule of law. Details of her work defending Clinton on his various scandals have been largely withheld from the public.

We trust that President Obama picked a nominee who buys into his questionable standards for judicial nominations — which means nominating judges who are results-oriented, are biased in favor of liberal causes or favored groups, and substitute their personal opinions and political views for the plain words of the U.S. Constitution.

Many observers suggest that Ms. Kagan should be confirmed because she did not make any major “gaffes” during her hearings. Why has this become the qualifying factor for Supreme Court confirmation? We should not be overly concerned about gaffes or slips of the tongue that occur during a hearing. We should be more concerned about the questionable choices made by the nominee throughout their career. And Elena Kagan has made many questionable choices. (See, to note just two examples, her aggressive actions and problematic testimony on her banning of military recruiters and her machinations for partial-birth abortion.)

Again, Judicial Watch believes that the Committee should reject Ms. Kagan’s nomination for the High Court.

Again, I encourage you to contact your Senators and tell them your views on the Kagan nomination. Both Republicans and Democrats need to hear that Americans consider the judicial activism issue important. Most Republicans seem to think that pro forma opposition to terrible judicial nominations is sufficient. (Other Republicans, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham, won’t even bother to stand against the politicization of the judiciary by Obama.) And too many Democrats seem to think that they can use the courts to advance a liberal policy agenda. Either way, the American people and self-governance lose.

You can find contact info for every US Senator here.

Until next week…



Tom Fitton
President


Judicial Watch is a non-partisan, educational foundation organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. Judicial Watch is dedicated to fighting government and judicial corruption and promoting a return to ethics and morality in our nation’s public life. To make a tax-deductible contribution in support of our efforts, click here.

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