Court backs Eric Holder on Arizona law


A federal appeals court, siding with the Obama Justice Department, has upheld a ruling that blocked parts of Arizona’s tough new illegal immigration law because they conflict with federal law — and have adversely affected U.S. foreign relations.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which issued its decision Monday, denied Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s appeal of an injunction last July that stopped parts of the law known as SB 1070 from taking effect — including a requirement for police officers to check the immigration status of individuals stopped for traffic violations or questioned in a crime investigation.

President Barack Obama harshly criticized the Arizona law when it passed, and Attorney General Eric Holder sued to stop its enforcement.

The ruling tees up the case for possible review by the Supreme Court, although state officials could first ask a larger, 11-judge panel to hear its appeal or the case also could go back to the federal district court for a full trial. The three-judge panel split 2-1 in favor of the federal government on some of the most hotly-contested parts of the legislation, but the judges unanimously voted that other parts of the state law went too far.

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