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US appeals court dismisses police officer's suit against AZ immigration law

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Thursday that a police officer does not have standing to challenge Arizona's controversial immigration law [SB 1070, PDF; JURIST news archive]. Tucson patrol officer Martin Escobar challenged the law [JURIST report] last year, claiming standing as an officer "mandated to enforce SB 1070." He argued that he has standing because, "if he refuses to enforce the Act, he can be disciplined by his employer," and if he does enforce it, he "can be subject to costly civil actions" for "deprivation of civil rights of the individual against whom he enforces the Act." The appeals court rejected these arguments and upheld a decision by the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] to dismiss the suit [JURIST report]. The appeals court also rejected Escobar's claim that he has standing as a Hispanic living in Arizona because he "alleged insufficient facts" to show injury based on this claim and that "mere conclusory allegations" are not enough to show injury. Arizona Gover Jan Brewer said in a press release [text, PDF] that she is "pleased" with the appeals court's decision and she will "continue to defend" the law.

Last month, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) urged [brief, PDF] the US Supreme Court [official websites] not to hear Arizona's appeal of a decision [opinion, PDF] enjoining four provisions of SB 1070. The Ninth Circuit upheld an injunction in April before the law ever took effect, and Arizona is now asking the high court [JURIST reports] to address whether the state law is preempted by federal immigration legislation. In a preview of how it might rule should it decide to hear the case, the Supreme Court in May ruled [JURIST report] in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting [opinion, PDF] that Arizona's controversial employment related immigration law [materials] is not preempted by the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) [text]. The DOJ sued [JURIST report] the state of Arizona and Brewer over SB 1070 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."

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