Thomas Loses Case on Spanish-Language DUI Courts; Ninth Circuit Says He has No Standing to Sue

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas' lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Spanish-language DUI courts was rejected today by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Thomas already lost this one once at the U.S. District Court level, though he once vowed to take it to the Supreme Court, if necessary.

Thomas believes the "race-based courts" result in better treatment for people sentenced in them. Whether he's right or not, the Ninth Circuit Court basically says Thomas has no standing to sue:

[8] We hold that neither Thomas nor the individual plaintiffs have successfully pled their standing to challenge the constitutionality of the separate DUI courts. Although we do not take lightly allegations of racial discrimination in the judicial system, the doctrine of standing is of equal consequence. This constitutional prerogative "is founded in concern about the proper--and properly limited--role of the courts in a democratic society." Warth, 422 U.S. at 498. And as we held nearly three decades ago, the standing requirements of Article III "bar the courthouse door until the victim of a law's unconstitutional enforcement . . . chooses to knock." South Lake Tahoe, 625 F.2d at 238. In this case, Thomas and the individ- ual plaintiffs have not alleged sufficient interest in this dispute to merit their entry into federal court. We therefore affirm the district court's dismissal of their claims for lack of standing.

You can read the court's opinion by clicking here.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.