Arizona governor removes state AG from immigration lawsuit defense

[JURIST] Arizona Governor Jan Brewer [official website] said Friday that she will not seek the assistance [statement, PDF] of state Attorney General Terry Goddard [official website] in defending against challenges to the new immigration law [SB 1070 materials; JURIST news archive]. The announcement came after Goddard met with officials from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] Friday and held a press conference hours before the DOJ met with the governor and her legal team. Brewer expressed her displeasure at Goddard's meeting with the DOJ, calling it "disturbingly similar" to Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' correspondence with the Obama administration [press release] to assist in developing a plan to deploy National Guard troops to the US-Mexican border [JURIST report]. Brewer cited a provision in the new immigration bill that gives her authority to seek the assistance of outside counsel rather than the assistance of the attorney general in defending the bill:

The Legislature gave me this authority because of its lack of confidence in the Attorney General's willingness to vigorously defend this legislation that is so critical to protecting the safety and welfare of Arizona's citizens. ... Due to Attorney General Goddard's curious coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice today and his consistent opposition to Arizona's new immigration laws, I will direct my legal team to defend me and the State of Arizona rather than the Attorney General in the lawsuits challenging Arizona's immigration laws.
Goddard said that he urged the DOJ not to file its own lawsuit [press release] in opposition to the bill, saying that "Arizona will fight back" against any challenges. He called for the Obama administration to "implement comprehensive border reform" instead of adding another suit to those already pending against the state. The law is set to go into effect on July 29.

Several lawsuits have been filed in response to the bill, which was signed into law [JURIST reports] at the end of April, including a suit by an Arizona police officer alleging that the law will hamper police investigations. The American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] also filed suit [JURIST report], challenging the constitutionality of the law and seeking an injunction, though some find the law is constitutional on its face [JURIST op-ed]. Proponents of the law argue that it will discourage illegal immigration, while opponents contend it will lead to discriminatory police practices based on race. The Obama administration, though supporting immigration reform, has sharply criticized the law [JURIST report], calling it "misguided" and expressing concern that it could be applied in a discriminatory fashion. These criticisms are shared by Mexican President Felipe Calderon [official website, Spanish] who called the law a "violation of human rights" [JURIST report]. Earlier this month, a group of UN experts found that the law could violate international standards [JURIST report] that are binding on the US.

 

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