Racial Profiling Lawsuit by ACLU Against Sheriff Arpaio's Office Moves Forward

The racial profiling case launched on behalf of several Valley residents by the American Civil Liberties Union against Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office has been allowed to proceed by a federal judge.

In her ruling yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Murguia rejected a call by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office to dismiss the case based on several legal arguments.

If you'll recall, this case involves a cross-section of Hispanics in America, including an aide to the mayor of Phoenix, a law-abiding green-card holder, and working-class, American siblings with criminal records (pictured). The lawsuit goes to the heart of the debate over Arpaio's anti-illegal-immigrant programs, alleging the sheriff's tactics are resulting in serious civil rights abuses.

Murguia rejected techical arguments by the county for why the case should be dropped, such as the idea that the county shouldn't be responsible for policies set by the sheriff.

Murguia emphasizes in her ruling how Sheriff Arpaio himself apparently provides good evidence for the ACLU (the plaintiffs in the case), based on his public statements and associations:

With respect to whether Plaintiffs have sufficiently plead a discriminatory purpose, the Complaint is replete with references to acts of intentional discrimination by Defendants against Plaintiffs on the basis of race. Examples of such intentional discrimination include allegations that Defendant Arpaio made a public statement that physical appearance alone is sufficient to question an individual about their immigration status, that MCSO's crime suppression sweeps have been allegedly targeted at areas having a high concentration of Hispanics, and that the MCSO has used volunteers to assist in these crime sweeps who have known animosity towards Hispanics and immigrants.

Hmmm -- we can't help but wonder what the first Latina judge appointed to the U.S. District Court in Phoenix thinks of the idea that "physical appearance alone" should merit a police interrogation.

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