Feathered Bastard

SB 1070 Slugfest: Will Judge Susan Bolton Block 1070's "Papers Please" Section?

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That John Bouma has such a way with words.

During oral arguments Tuesday in federal court over the "papers please" portion of Arizona's Senate Bill 1070, Bouma, chairman of the powerhouse law firm Snell & Wilmer, offered sometimes racially-charged arguments as to why section 2(b) should not be enjoined by Judge Susan R. Bolton.

Bouma conceded that Latinos and Mexican nationals -- whether here legally or not -- will be disproportionately affected by the implementation of 2(b), which requires cops to check immigration status during all lawful stops, if there's reasonable suspicion that the individual is undocumented.

But, he awkwardly seemed to be contending, like, so what?

"Who else is coming across the border like Hispanics?" asked Bouma rhetorically, his voice rising in apparent frustration.

He cited precedents having to do with the disproportionate impact of certain laws on Muslims, and on African-Americans.

"[T]here's a much higher proportion of blacks than anybody else [doing crack cocaine]," observed Bouma, in a spurt of weirdness.

(Note: See update below.)

Naturally, such inflammatory talk set reporters' pens in the court scribbling. Only thing Bouma could have done for an encore is bust out into a Don Rickles-esque floor show, featuring a crass parade of Irish, Jewish, and Polish jokes.

Yeah, I know Bouma was referencing federal court cases having to do with drug laws, but to say this was inartfully done is an understatement. Especially when Bouma is supposed to be defending his client -- the State of Arizona -- from the plaintiffs' claim in Valle del Sol v. Whiting that 1070 was motivated, in part, by ethnic and racial animus.

(I know, no duh, eh? But play along. What's painfully obvious still has to be demonstrated in court.)

That's part of the plaintiffs' challenge to 2(b) on Fourth and 14th amendment grounds, challenges not made before the U.S. Supreme Court in June, when the majority upheld three of Bolton's injunctions on the grounds that federal immigration law preempts state efforts to regulate immigration.

However, the Supremes disagreed with Bolton's injunction on 2(b).

At issue is whether Bolton will lift the injunction on 2(b) or let it stand for reasons other than preemption. The judge issued her initial injunctions two years ago, on July 28, 2010, one day before 1070 was scheduled to go into effect. Since then, two other provisions dealing with day-laborers have been enjoined.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons