Challenging Arizona’s Immigration Law

Munger, Tolles & Olson is working with a coalition of civil rights groups to challenge the constitutionality of Arizona’s anti-immigration law, SB 1070. The statute made international headlines in 2010 because of its strict provisions that would require police to check immigration status if they stop someone while enforcing other laws, allow for warrantless arrests of suspected illegal immigrants and criminalize the failure of immigrants to carry registration papers.

In May 2010, Munger Tolles, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project and the National Immigration Law Center filed a federal court lawsuit challenging the law’s constitutionality. The lawsuit alleges that SB 1070 is unconstitutional because it interferes with the exclusive power of the federal government to regulate immigration and violates the civil rights of immigrants and persons of color, particularly individuals of Hispanic descent. That lawsuit is pending, having survived the bulk of the defendants’ motions to dismiss.

Munger Tolles lawyers worked with the same coalition in filing an amicus brief in the 9th Circuit, urging that court to uphold an injunction issued in a parallel case, United States v. Arizona, and blocking implementation of the law’s core provisions. In April 2011, the 9th Circuit upheld the injunction in United States v. Arizona. Among other holdings, the 9th Circuit adopted an argument made in our brief — that states do not have inherent authority to enforce the civil provisions of federal immigration law — which was not an argument that had been advanced by the United States.

The same coalition, with Munger Tolles' participation, also filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court in connection of its review of the 9th Circuit's holding.