2008 February 10 Sunday
Court Rulings Help Local Battles Against Illegal Aliens

A few recent US federal court rulings bolstered the power of local governments to enforce laws aimed against illegal immigrants.

On Thursday, a federal judge in Arizona ruled against a lawsuit by construction contractors and immigrant organizations who sought to halt a state law that went into effect on Jan. 1 imposing severe penalties on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. The judge, Neil V. Wake of Federal District Court, methodically rejected all of the contractors’ arguments that the Arizona law invaded legal territory belonging exclusively to the federal government.

On Jan. 31, a federal judge in Missouri, E. Richard Webber, issued a similarly broad and even more forcefully worded decision in favor of an ordinance aimed at employers of illegal immigrants adopted by Valley Park, Mo., a city on the outskirts of St. Louis.

And, in an even more sweeping ruling in December, a judge in Oklahoma, James H. Payne, threw out a lawsuit against a state statute enacted last year requiring state contractors to verify new employees’ immigration status. Judge Payne said the immigrants should not be able to bring their claims to court because they were living in the country in violation of the law.

By contrast, in an earlier court ruling Hazleton Pennsylvania lost in its attempt to enforce ordinances against illegal aliens. But Hazleton has appealed.

I would like to know who appointed each of these judges. Anyone know of an online resource for finding out which Administration appointed each US federal judge?

If John McCain is elected he's probably going to feel constrained to appoint judges that pass muster with the Federalist Society and other right wing strict constructionist legal organizations. So even though he personally prefers weaker immigration law enforcement at least on the topic of judiciary rulings he's not likely to get his way.

Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama would appoint judges far more likely to overrule local anti-illegal immigrant statutes based on supposed civil rights or federal supremacy in setting and enforcing immigration policy.

Hazleton PA will cite the Valley Park Missouri ruling in Hazleton's appeal.

'Whatever frustrations officials of the city of Hazleton may feel about the current state of federal immigration enforcement, the nature of the political system in the United States prohibits the city from enacting ordinances that disrupt a carefully drawn federal statutory scheme,'' U.S. District Judge James Munley wrote.

In his opinion, issued six months after Munley's, Webber noted he was free to depart from the ruling in the Hazleton case.

''The Court respectfully notes that the Pennsylvania decision is not binding, and therefore, the Court will conduct its own thorough analysis of the issues presented,'' he wrote.

Hazleton has appealed Munley's ruling to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. The city's lawyers plan to file a brief with the court Thursday arguing that Munley erred in his interpretation of federal law -- and citing Webber's decision in the Valley Park case.

The American Civil Liberties Union predictably opposed tougher immigration law enforcement in both the Hazleton and Valley Park cases. The ACLU needs US courts to have sovereign power to make decisions that the ACLU wants and yet the ACLU fights for outcomes that ultimately will destroy American sovereignty.

But the losers in the Arizona case are going to appeal as well.

The employer and immigration-rights groups said they would appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. They had been expecting Wake -- who was openly critical of their arguments in court hearings in December -- to rule against them.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2008 February 10 12:42 PM  Immigration Law Enforcement

John Shade said at February 11, 2008 9:52 AM:

The Federal Judicial Center's website has online biographies for all members of the federal judiciary going back to 1789.


Clinton nominated Judge Munley, who struck down the Pennsylvania statute, and Judge Webber, who upheld the Missouri statute. George W. Bush nominated Judge Payne, who upheld the Oklahoma statute, and Wake, who upheld the Arizona statute.

Randall Parker said at February 11, 2008 6:11 PM:

John Shade,

Thanks for that. Very informative.

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