A judge for the US District Court in the District of Arizona [official website] on Friday denied [order, PDF] motions to dismiss a class action lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging the constitutionality of the controversial Arizona immigration law [SB 1070 materials; JURIST news archive]. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) [official website] and Sheriffs Joe Arpaio and Paul Babeu had filed motions to dismiss the lawsuit claiming the plaintiffs, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] lack standing under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) [text]. In denying the motions, Judge Susan Bolton ruled the case had merit to go forward and found the immigration law may violate both the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments [texts]. Bolton did dismiss the plaintiffs' claim that the law violates portions of the First Amendment [text] and denied their request for an injunction against the law, citing the previous injunction already issued [JURIST report] in a separate lawsuit [JURIST report] brought by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website]. The ACLU is joined in the lawsuit by several other rights groups including the NAACP, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) [advocacy websites], as well as several individual plaintiffs. In a statement, the ACLU praised the decision [press release] saying, "today's order is an important first step in challenging this unconstitutional law. The civil rights coalition will continue its legal fight until all of SB 1070 is taken off the books."
This most recent lawsuit joins two others filed [JURIST report] earlier this year challenging the constitutionality of the Arizona law. The bill, signed into law [JURIST report] by Brewer in April, has caused intense controversy. In May, a group of UN human rights experts indicated the measure may violate international standards [JURIST report] that are binding on the US. Mexican President Felipe Calderon [official website, in Spanish] has strongly criticized [JURIST report] the new law, claiming that it opens the door to intolerance and hatred. US President Barack Obama also criticized the law [JURIST report], and called for federal immigration reform. Under the law, it is designated a crime to be in the country illegally, and immigrants unable to verify their legal status could be arrested and jailed for six months and fined $2,500.