In Phoenix today, lawyers from the Justice Department argued against Arizona Senate Bill 1070, which authorizes police to question the immigration status of suspected persons.
The Washington Post reports that the court is skeptical of the Obama administration's argument that the law causes "irreparable harm."
"Why can't Arizona be as inhospitable as they wish to people who have entered or remained in the United States?" U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton asked in a pointed exchange with Deputy Solicitor General Edwin S. Kneedler. Her comment came during a rare federal court hearing in the Justice Department's lawsuit against Arizona and Gov. Jan Brewer (R).
Bolton, a Democratic appointee, also questioned a core part of the Justice Department's argument that she should declare the law unconstitutional: that it is "preempted" by federal law because immigration enforcement is an exclusive federal prerogative.
"How is there a preemption issue?" the judge asked. "I understand there may be other issues, but you're arguing preemption. Where is the preemption if everybody who is arrested for some crime has their immigration status checked?"
According to The Arizona Republic:
[Judge Bolton] didn't issue a ruling, and it is unknown when she will. But the clock is ticking toward next Thursday, when the law goes into effect.
Bolton did make one thing clear: She has no intention of invalidating the entire law but is considering halting the enactment of a handful of its 14 sections.
An Arizona Fox affiliate offers a profile of Judge Susan Bolton, who will be deciding the case:
Bolton was a Superior Court judge in Maricopa County for 11 years, between 1989 and 2000. She is well regarded among both Democrats and Republicans.
In 2000, she was recommended by Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, a Republican, for the federal bench. And she was nominated by then-President Clinton.
Meanwhile, opinion polls indicate a majority of Americans support Arizona's efforts to combat illegal immigration, with the strongest support in Southern and Western states:
The most compelling figure from the poll is that 51 percent of Americans support Arizona's law as it stands, compared with 35 percent who support the US case against Arizona.
The level of support is highest in the South and the West, at 55 and 56 percent, respectively. By contrast, respondents in the Northeast were equally divided in their support for Arizona versus the US, 41 percent to 41 percent.
"This tells me that states in regions that have to deal with immigration tend to support the Arizona law because they have a better understanding of the challenges. The states in the Northeast don't have a border problem," [TIPP President Raghavan] Mayur says.
The findings are consistent with other polls showing a majority of the public supports Arizona's law, say other analysts.
The entirety of Arizona Senate Bill 1070 can be found here.
The Justice Department brief filed to overturn SB 1070 can be found here.
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