This afternoon, in a long-awaited decision, federal district court judge Susan Bolton enjoined several major provisions of Arizona’s immigration law, SB-1070. While it was speculated that Bolton would block parts of SB-1070 relating to warrantless arrests and document requirements, the judge also ended up striking down the law’s most controversial and significant provision: the requirement that police check immigration status. Bolton blocked the following sections of SB-1070 arguing that “the United States is likely to succeed on the merits in showing that…[they] are preempted by federal law” and the “United States is likely to suffer irreparable harm” in the absence of an injunction:
Portion of Section 2 of S.B. 1070: Requires police to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they stop, detain, or arrest if they reasonably suspect the person is in the country illegally.
Section 3 of S.B. 1070: Criminalizes the the failure to apply for or carry immigration documents.
Portion of Section 5 of S.B. 1070: Criminalizes the solicitation, application for, or performance of work by an undocumented immigrant.
Section 6 of S.B. 1070: Authorizes the warrantless arrest of a person where there is probable cause to believe the person has committed a public offense that makes the person “removable.”
Bolton also echoed the criticisms made by SB-1070 opponents over the past few months, noting that “requiring Arizona law enforcement officials and agencies to determine the immigration status of every person who is arrested burdens lawfully-present aliens because their liberty will be restricted while their status is check.” She additionally found that the burdensome verification requirement “will divert resources from the federal government’s other responsibilities and priorities.” However, a few problematic sections remain including the one which allows Arizona residents to sue local police if they believe they are not enforcing what remains of SB-1070 and the creation of a separate crime for knowingly transporting an undocumented immigrant under any circumstance, even in an emergency.
Ironically, on the recommendation of Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) — an ardent proponent of SB-1070 — Bolton was nominated to the United States District Court for the District of Arizona by President Bill Clinton back in 2000. During her confirmation hearing, Kyl stated:
Well, there is one person in our state who’s a real expert on this in the judiciary, and that’s Judge Bolton. And because of her expertise and fairness, all of the contending interests from Arizona have been willing to place their concerns before her to be resolved, and she is right in the middle of this important litigation right now. They will be very sorry to see her leave in Maricopa County Superior Court bench. So, I have some mixed emotions in helping to nominate or to confirm Judge Bolton, but that’s how highly thought of she is.
Prior to the announcement of her decision, Kyl speculated that “she will parse the law, that is to say she will perhaps extract certain portions of it that she think might be problematic and might enjoin those portions calling additional briefings from the parties.” Before learning of Bolton’s decision, Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) stated, “I’m confident Arizona will prevail.” Bolton has been described by her peers as an “impeccable” and “fearless” judge whose rulings are “well-reasoned and unambiguous.”