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Friday, July 23, 2010

Federal Judge Unsympathetic To Obama Admin's 'Preemption' Argument About AZ's Immigration Law

If today's rare federal court hearing presided over by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton, is any indicator, the Obama DOJ lawsuit against Arizona's new immigration law SB 1070, citing "preemption" may not make it past the arguments set forth in court today.

Washington Post reports:

"Why can't Arizona be as inhospitable as they wish to people who have entered or remained in the United States?" U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton asked in a pointed exchange with Deputy Solicitor General Edwin S. Kneedler. Her comment came during a rare federal court hearing in the Justice Department's lawsuit against Arizona and Gov. Jan Brewer (R).

Bolton, a Democratic appointee, also questioned a core part of the Justice Department's argument that she should declare the law unconstitutional: that it is "preempted" by federal law because immigration enforcement is an exclusive federal prerogative.

"How is there a preemption issue?" the judge asked. "I understand there may be other issues, but you're arguing preemption. Where is the preemption if everybody who is arrested for some crime has their immigration status checked?"

Bolton, who was appointed by Bill Clinton, and is a former Arizona State Court Judge, made it very clear she would not strike down SB 1070 in it's entirety and will consider the law section by section for all 14 sections.

Bolton will be presiding over six other lawsuits filed against the Arizona law.

SB 1070 is due to take effect next Thursday, 6 days from now and the judge is taking it under advisement now with no more arguments from attorneys.

According to NPR, Bolton addressed issues that were not brought up:

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton also went beyond dry legal analysis to point out some of the everyday realities of illegal immigration and how that applies to the new law.

Without prodding from attorneys, the judge noted that the federal government erected signs in a wilderness area south of Phoenix that warn visitors about immigrant and drug smugglers passing through public lands. She said the stash houses where smugglers hide immigrants from Mexico before bringing them into the country's interior have become a fixture on the news in Arizona.

"You can barely go a day without a location being found in Phoenix where there are numerous people being harbored," said Bolton, who didn't issue a ruling after the two hearings.

From the reported back and forth between Bolton, Deputy Solicitor General Edwin S. Kneedler and John J. Bouma, Arizona's lead attorney, Bolton seems highly unsympathetic to the Obama Justice Department's arguments and it would be a very public loss should she refuse to issue the injunction against SB 1070 before it goes into effect.

H/T Hot Air.