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U.S. v. Arizona

The federal government brought this lawsuit against the state of Arizona in order to challenge the constitutionality of Arizona’s anti-immigration law S.B. 1070. In July 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice won a key victory when U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton blocked the enforcement of the most controversial parts of Arizona’s law, just days before the law was to go into effect. The state appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

On September 30, 2010, CAC filed a brief in the Ninth Circuit in support of the federal government in this case. As we explained in our brief, Arizona’s controversial law, which seeks to supplant the federal government in enforcing immigration laws in Arizona, is in direct conflict with the text of the U.S. Constitution, the document’s drafting history, and its federalist structure.

On April 11, 2011, the Ninth Circuit, in a 2-1 ruling, upheld Judge Bolton’s injunction, holding that the federal government was likely to succeed on the merits of its claim that the blocked provisions of the state law are unconstitutional because they inappropriately interfere with the federal government’s power to regulate immigration and naturalization issues. Both Judge Paez’s opinion for the court and Judge Noonan’s concurrence appropriately emphasize that the federal government’s powers are particularly sweeping when it comes to foreign affairs. Indeed, as we explained in CAC’s brief, Congress’ constitutional power to make a “uniform rule of naturalization” is one of the few places where the Constitution makes absolutely clear that the federal government’s power is exclusive. Read our statement praising the Ninth Circuit’s decision, here.

On December 12, 2011, the Supreme Court granted review of the case and will hear oral argument in Spring 2012.  For an in-depth analysis of the case, and to learn more about CAC's involvement, visit our blog Text & History. For information on the Supreme Court's consideration of this case, please go here.