Arizona state officials said Monday the state will go directly to the US Supreme Court [official website] to lift the injunction preventing the state from enforcing its controversial immigration law [SB 1070 materials; JURIST news archive]. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) [official website] and Attorney General Tom Horne [official profile] announced [press release] that the state would immediately petition the Supreme Court to lift the injunction. Brewer said she knew the fight over SB 1070 would be a prolonged legal battle, but the state is taking it directly to the nation's highest court after unsuccessful attempts to have the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] lift the injunction. Arizona argues that it is on the front lines of a fight against cartel-led crime entering the US from the border with Mexico and that states have a right to pass laws to protect themselves. The announcement comes less than a month after a Ninth Circuit panel refused to lift the injunction [JURIST report] on parts of the immigration law, including a requirement that police officers enforcing other laws question people about their immigration status if the officers have reason to suspect they are an illegal immigrant. Arizona is also countersuing the federal government [JURIST report] for failing to adequately protect the US border with Mexico. The outcome over Arizona's immigration law will have serious implications on states' rights and immigration reform as similar bills are being considered ans passed by other state legislatures, including Utah, Oklahoma and Georgia [JURIST reports].
Last July, the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] granted a preliminary injunction [JURIST report] to the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] blocking implementation of the law. In affirming that decision, the Ninth Circuit held that "the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the United States demonstrated that it faced irreparable harm and that granting the preliminary injunction properly balanced the equities and was in the public interest." In addressing the equities and public interest, the Ninth Circuit indicated that the constitutional infringement of the Supremacy Clause [text] alleged by the DOJ could itself constitute irreparable harm to the federal government absent injunctive relief. The DOJ had sued [JURIST report] Arizona and Brewer last year, arguing that both the Constitution and federal law "do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country." The agency also claimed that the federal government has preeminent authority to regulate immigration matters and that the enforcement of the Arizona law is counterproductive to the national immigration policy.