The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today ordered a full-court "en banc" hearing of Arizona's voter-approved law that denies bail to undocumented immigrants accused of serious crimes.
Since the challenge to the 2006 law appeared settled after a Ninth Circuit 2-1 ruling in June, the new order is a good start to the new year for the plaintiffs of the lawsuit -- and likely trouble for the law.
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Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Bill Montgomery didn't return requests for comment on the order.
Riding a crest of anti-immigrant sentiment in 2006, the initiative denying bail to suspected immigrant-criminals passed 78-22, spearhead by former State Senator Russell Pearce and former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas.
How times have changed: Pearce was recalled, Thomas lost the 2010 race for Attorney General to Tom Horne, then got disbarred. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer got re-elected after signing the anti-illegal-immigrant Senate Bill 1070 in 2010, but it was gutted in federal court. Brewer's now considered "back on her meds" by the leftie Wonkette blog. Sheriff Joe Arpaio's near-pogrom against undocumented residents has been reined in, mostly. He'll soon be appointed a federal monitor following the loss of a racial-profiling lawsuit and accusations by the U.S. Department of Justice that he led a police force that discriminated systemically against Hispanics. The U.S Supreme Court struck down key provisions of Arizona's voter-backed Proposition 200, which required people to show identification before filling out federal voter-registration forms. (The state's trying to get around that one by setting up two election booths, one for state and local issues and politicians, and a separate one for the non-ID-requiring feds.)
Now it's been ordered that another longtime staple of anti-immigrant fervor, the no-bail provision, is getting another look -- this time from the larger en banc court. New Times can tell you from experience that an en banc re-hearing might bode well for the appealing party. In June 2011, a three-member panel voted 2-1 in the case of New Times versus Sheriff Arpaio and Andrew Thomas that Arpaio and Thomas were immune from lawsuit in their capacity as public officials. But the court reversed itself following an en banc review by an 11-judge court, leading to the December settlement of $3.75 million in the case to New Times co-founders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, who were the subjects of a false arrest.
So, this Proposition 100 review could be interesting.
Records show the Ninth Circuit plans to hold a re-hearing in the case sometime during the week of March 17, with a specific time and date to be announced.
The American Civil Liberties Union is representing two undocumented immigrants denied bail in the case, one arrested on suspicion of drug charges and other who was suspected of assault, kidnapping and aiding a criminal syndicate.