[JURIST] The American Bar Association (ABA) [official website] has filed an amicus curiae brief [text, PDF] urging the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] to block enforcement of the state’s controversial new immigration law [SB 1070 materials; JURIST news archive] before it takes effect July 29. The brief, filed in support of the US government, follows the submission of another amicus curiae brief [text, PDF; JURIST report] by the ABA earlier this month in a different case challenging the Arizona law filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website]. A revised version of that brief was also filed Wednesday, after the court requested that all supporting briefs conform to a ten-page limit. In the brief filed in support of the US, the ABA argues that the Arizona law violates the Supremacy Clause [Cornell LII backgrounder] of the US Constitution [text], an issue that has been of “considerable importance” to the ABA since 1983. The ABA specifically says the law should be ruled invalid because it necessarily interferes in a realm of policy that the Constitution places solely within federal jurisdiction, explaining:
The ABA has long opposed initiatives such as S.B. 1070 that, by their plain language, can only be implemented by usurping the federal government’s exclusive authority to make immigration law and set immigration policy. While the ABA believes … that the federal immigration system must be reformed, and while the ABA appreciates Arizona’s desire to tackle the problems faced by that state, the ABA also urges that our Constitution does not allow for unilateral state action in the formulation of immigration law. Immigration matters are and must remain federal, and states should not be permitted to enforce immigration law independently of specific federal authorization; the practical result of the contrary would be the undermining of uniformity in immigration law and immigration law enforcement.
In supporting its claim that immigration is solely within federal jurisdiction, the ABA cited the Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] case of Truax v. Raich [Cornell LII syllabus], and federal statute such as the Immigration and Nationality Act [8 USC § 1101 et seq. text]. The brief also argued that the Arizona law would interfere with law enforcement officers’ public safety functions and infringe on both citizens’ and noncitizens’ constitutional rights by placing upon them the burden of proving their citizenship.
Earlier this month, the ABA filed their first brief in support of a class-action lawsuit led by the ACLU, arguing that the law will increase the use of racial profiling, resulting in unlawful and unreasonable detentions and increase the burden on the state’s indigent defense system. The ABA usually waits until a case reaches the appellate level to file an amicus curiae brief, but ABA President Carolyn Lamm [professional profile] said this case requires “extraordinary action.” The ACLU filed the class action lawsuit [JURIST report] in May. Two week ago, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] filed suit seeking to permanently enjoin [JURIST report] the law from taking effect, arguing that the Constitution and federal law “do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country,” and calling it counterproductive to national immigration policy. The suit was filed against the State of Arizona and Governor Jan Brewer (R) [official website], who signed the legislation into law [JURIST report] by in April.