ACLU And Other Groups File Amicus Brief Opposing Arizona's Racial Profiling Law

Affiliate: ACLU of Arizona
September 30, 2010 12:00 am

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SAN FRANCISCO – The American Civil Liberties Union and a coalition of civil rights groups today filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit urging the court to keep in place an injunction blocking the core provisions of SB 1070, Arizona’s racial profiling law.

The coalition represents a group of individual and organizational plaintiffs who filed a class action lawsuit challenging SB 1070, Friendly House v. Whiting, in May 2010. The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a parallel lawsuit, United States v. Arizona, in July. Both the DOJ and the Friendly House plaintiffs requested that the district court block the law pending a final court ruling on its constitutionality, and the court heard back-to-back oral arguments from the DOJ and the Friendly House plaintiffs on July 22. The district court issued its preliminary injunction only in the DOJ case, and the Friendly House plaintiffs’ request remains pending. The Friendly House plaintiffs are filing today’s friend-of-the-court brief in the DOJ case, which is now before the court of appeals.

The coalition’s brief illustrates the serious harms that the Friendly House plaintiffs and other individuals would suffer if the blocked sections of SB 1070 were to go into effect, including improper questioning and detention, racial profiling and curtailment of lawful activity. The friend-of-the-court brief also supplements the legal analysis presented by the parties in earlier court filings and arguments.

The civil rights coalition includes the ACLU, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), National Immigration Law Center (NILC), Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) – a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, ACLU of Arizona, National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The law firms of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, Roush, McCracken, Guerrero, Miller & Ortega and Altshuler Berzon LLP are co-counsel in the case.

The appeals court will hear oral arguments in United States v. Arizona on November 1 in San Francisco.

The following quotes can be attributed to members of the coalition, as listed below.

Omar Jadwat, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project: “Communities that had been bracing for an onslaught of harassment and abuse breathed a cautious sigh of relief when the district court blocked the most egregious parts of SB 1070. We are confident that the court of appeals will affirm the injunction preventing the state from instituting an un-American ‘show me your papers’ regime.”

Victor Viramontes, MALDEF National Senior Counsel: “SB 1070 is a radical, anti-immigrant law that Arizona has no authority to enact. The trial court already preliminarily blocked the law, and the court of appeals should do the same. SB 1070 cannot be allowed to let racial profiling undermine local, state and federal law enforcement.”

Alessandra Soler Meetze, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arizona: “Since this discriminatory bill was signed, we have seen cases of racial profiling and unlawful detentions increase, and our communities are acutely aware of what more could happen if the bill is enacted. We believe the courts will ultimately find that all of SB 1070 is unconstitutional and strike it down. We filed this brief to show the court of appeals that there will be a terrible human cost in Arizona if the partial injunction is lifted.”

Karen Tumlin, Managing Attorney, National Immigration Law Center: “The brief filed today paints a picture for the court of the devastating human consequences of lifting the temporary injunction, which for countless Arizonans of color would result in unlawful arrest and detentions. Worse, the law would create a climate where individuals would be targeted by the ‘papers please’ law because of the way they look or speak. We hope the court carefully considers the irreparable harms Arizonans of color face when determining whether to maintain the temporary injunction of this unconstitutional law.”

Julie Su, Litigation Director at APALC: “The district court’s injunction was based on the well-settled principle that immigration laws and immigration enforcement are national responsibilities. The injunction helped to stave off copycat legislation in a number of states and we are hopeful that the Ninth Circuit will reinforce the supremacy of federal law regarding immigration and recognize the irreparable harms that communities of color will suffer, not only in Arizona but elsewhere in the country, if laws like SB 1070 are passed and enforced.”

Organizations and attorneys on the case, Friendly House et al. v. Whiting et al., include:

ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project: Jadwat, Lucas Guttentag, Cecillia Wang and Tanaz Moghadam;

MALDEF: Nina Perales, Thomas A. Saenz, Cynthia Valenzuela Dixon, Viramontes, Gladys Limón, Nicholás Espiritu and Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal;

NILC: Linton Joaquin, Tumlin, Nora A. Preciado, Melissa S. Keaney and Vivek Mittal;

ACLU Foundation of Arizona: Dan Pochoda and Annie Lai;

APALC: Su, Yungsuhn Park, Connie Choi and Carmina Ocampo;

NDLON: Chris Newman;

NAACP: Laura Blackburne;

Munger Tolles & Olson LLP: Bradley S. Phillips, Paul J. Watford, Joseph J. Ybarra, Susan T. Boyd, Yuval Miller, Elisabeth J. Neubauer and Benjamin Maro;

Roush, McCracken, Guerrero, Miller & Ortega: Daniel R. Ortega, Jr.

Today’s brief is online at:

More information about the Arizona law, including an ACLU video about how SB 1070 invites racial profiling, can be found at:

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