Critics of the law, including President Obama, said the provision would likely lead to illegal racial profiling. The Justice Department joined other plaintiffs in a lawsuit and urged Bolton to block implementation of the new law.
But rather than press the racial profiling issue, Justice Department lawyers argued that the Arizona law impermissibly intruded into areas of authority (immigration and border security) reserved to the federal government.
State officials countered that the Arizona law was written to complement federal immigration statutes, not supplant them.
Bolton disagreed, ruling that several provisions in the state measure were preempted by conflicting federal laws and the policies of the Obama administration. The judge issued a temporary injunction, meaning that she would temporarily block implementation of parts of the law pending a full trial.
Under normal circumstances, the legal challenges to the Arizona law would now be subject to a trial before Bolton. But because of the importance of the issue, state officials took the somewhat unusual step of asking the appeals court to hear their appeal even before a trial has been held.
“This appeal involves an issue of significant importance – the State of Arizona’s right to implement a law its Legislature enacted to address the irreparable harm Arizona is suffering as a result of unchecked unlawful immigration,” the Arizona lawyers said in their brief to the Ninth Circuit.
They urged the appeals court to speed up its consideration of the case in light of the “serious criminal, environmental, and economic problems Arizona has been suffering as a consequence of illegal immigration and the lack of effective enforcement activity by the federal government.”
The governor’s lawyers asked for the court to embrace a schedule that would call for the state’s opening brief by August 12, a response by the Justice Department by August 26, and a reply by Arizona by September 2. They asked that the court schedule the case for oral argument the week of September 13.