Court puts on hold ruling on Arizona no-bail law

Posted: Updated:
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX (AP) -- The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily put out on hold a ruling that struck down an Arizona law that denies bail to people in the country illegally who are charged with certain crimes.

Justice Anthony Kennedy says in an order issued Friday that the Oct. 15 ruling by a lower court will remain on hold until the nation's highest court decides whether to delay implementation of the decision on a more long-term basis.

Three weeks ago, an 11-member panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the 2006 voter-approved law, ruling it violates due-process rights by imposing punishment before trial. The panel also said the law was a "scattershot attempt" at confronting people who flee from authorities, and that there was no evidence the law dealt with a particularly critical problem.

Proposition 100, as the measure was known on the 2006 ballot, denies bail to immigrants who are in the country illegally and have been charged with a range of felonies that include shoplifting, aggravated identity theft, sexual assault and murder.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who defended the law before the courts, plan to petition the Supreme Court to review the case. They have until mid-January to make that filing.

Attorney John Eastman, who represents Arpaio and Montgomery in the case, said in court records that the ruling should be put on hold because the Supreme Court will probably agree to review the case and because the 9th Circuit's decision conflicts with an Arizona appeals court that upheld the law.

Eastman also said it's likely there will be a larger percentage of immigrants who aren't in the country legally won't show up for hearings in criminal court.

Cecillia Wang, the attorney who led the challenge of the law, said there are no conflicts between the courts that the Supreme Court has to resolve and pointed out that Friday's order by Kennedy doesn't say anything substantive about the case.

"Prop. 100 is unconstitutional, and the Arizona courts should start conducting individual hearings," said Wang, who faces a noon deadline on Monday for responding to the request by Arpaio and Montgomery.

The law was among four immigration proposals approved by Arizonans in 2006. The other measures made English the state's official language, barred immigrants who aren't authorized to be in the country from receiving punitive damages in lawsuits, and prohibited them from receiving certain government services and benefits.

Arizona is one of at least four states with laws confronting the issue of bail for people in the country without authorization. Missouri and Alabama have similar laws, while Virginia has a less stringent statute in which immigrants are allowed to argue their case for bail before a judge.

A three-member panel of the 9th Circuit previously rejected a challenge to the no-bail law, finding it didn't run afoul of the Constitution. But the law's challengers succeeded in getting a larger panel of the court to consider the case.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.