The Arizona Legal Battle is On

The battle over Arizona's SB 1070 ratcheted up today when a coalition of legal advocates filed a class action suit against the state.

By Seth Freed Wessler May 18, 2010

The battle over Arizona’s SB 1070 ratcheted up today when a coalition of legal advocates filed a class action suit against the state. The suit charges that the law violates the First and Fourth Amendments, mandates racial profiling and preempts existing federal laws. In addition to asking the court to declare the law illegal based on those charges, the suit seeks an immediate injunction to stop SB 1070 from going into effect on July 28. The coalition–which includes the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement Colored People, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the National Day Laborer’s Organizing Network and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, among others–is not the only suit against the new law, but it is the broadest in its claims, says Lucas Guttentag, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. Guttentag called the law the “most extreme and dangerous of local laws purporting to deal with the immigration issue.” SB 1070 requires police to inquire into the immigration status of anyone they stop and allows cops to stop people based, at least in part, on suspicion that they are undocumented. Omar Jadwat, an attorney with the ACLU said, “Arizona’s law is quintessentially un-American: we are not a ‘show me your papers’ country, nor one that believes in subjecting people to harassment, investigation and arrest simply because others may perceive them as foreign.” The lawsuit begins amidst a deepening national debate not only about the law’s legality but also about its ethics. A growing crop of cities, organizations and businesses have announced boycotts of Arizona until the law is overturned. Meanwhile, prominent figures, including Sarah Palin, have come out in support of SB 1070. If the U.S. District Court in Arizona rules in favor of the initial injunction, the law will be blocked until the case is finished. But in the meantime, numerous other state legislatures have introduced similar bills. These states could still pass laws even if the court rules in favor of an injunction against the Arizona law. Photo: Creative Commons/Evan Finn