Skip to comments.3 years later, Hazleton's controversial immigration case still in legal limbo
Posted on 07/26/2010 4:32:16 AM PDT by Born Conservative
While the national debate over illegal immigration plays out in Arizona, lawyers across the country are still waiting for a federal appeals court decision on a lower court ruling that invalidated Hazleton's immigration law.
Today is the third anniversary of the ruling by U.S. District Judge James M. Munley that grabbed national attention in finding the Luzerne County city's immigration law was unconstitutional.
Lawyers in the case say they have no idea when the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will rule.
The case grew out of Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta's attempt to clamp down on illegal immigration through a city ordinance that punished landlords who rented to aliens or businesses that employed them.
The ordinance ignited a firestorm of opposition from the Latino community and a legal challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union and others that landed Hazleton in federal court.
Months after a nine-day trial, Judge Munley struck down the city's Illegal Immigration Relief Act in a 206-page opinion.
"Whatever frustrations ... the city of Hazleton may feel about the current state of federal immigration enforcement, the nature of the political system in the United States prohibits the city from enacting ordinances that disrupt a carefully drawn federal statutory scheme," Judge Munley wrote.
Hazleton appealed to the circuit court. After oral arguments Oct. 31, 2008, the lawyers predicted the court would rule in six to 12 months. They are still waiting.
"I believe the length of the decision on appeal indicates it is a very difficult case," said Mr. Barletta, the father of the ordinance, which he said was the "first in the country."
Kris Kobach, a law professor at the University of Missouri - Kansas City, represented Hazleton. Mr. Kobach said he had no idea why the appeals court has not ruled.
"It's definitely longer than average," Mr. Kobach said, referring to how long it is taking for the court to rule. Whatever the reason for the delay, Mr. Kobach said he does not believe the court is trying to time it.
"I don't think they are trying to coincide with the anniversary." Mr. Kobach said.
Mr. Barletta said Hazleton is not the only one waiting for the court to rule.
"Now almost 40 cities are waiting for a decision on our ordinance," the mayor said Friday. According to Mr. Barletta, other cities have used "parts" of Hazleton's old ordinance. Like Hazleton they were sued but they won on appeal, he said.
The oral arguments before the three-judge circuit court panel stretched over two hours, far longer than judges normally permit lawyers to argue cases.
"This is truly a national case," argued attorney Vic Walczak of the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups opposed to the law.
Mr. Walczak said if Hazleton's law stands, other places will pass their own versions, creating a "patchwork" policy.
"All these laws will be a little different," he said.
The Hazleton case catapulted Mr. Barletta to national prominence when he proposed the ordinance in June 2006, and propelled his ultimately unsuccessful 2008 campaign for Congress. At the trial before Judge Munley, the mayor testified his city had become besieged by gangs, graffiti and crime because of illegal immigrants.
In his decision, Judge Munley said all people must be protected regardless of their legality.
"The genius of our Constitution is that it provides rights even to those who evoke the least sympathy from the general public," he wrote. "Hazleton, in its zeal to control the presence of a group deemed undesirable, violated the rights of such people, as well as others within the community."
A little about the “judge.”
Munley, James Martin
Born 1936 in Scranton, PA
Federal Judicial Service:
Judge, U. S. District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania
Nominated by William J. Clinton on June 4, 1998, to a seat vacated by William W. Caldwell; Confirmed by the Senate on October 21, 1998, and received commission on October 22, 1998. Assumed senior status on January 30, 2009.
University of Scranton, B.S., 1958
Temple University School of Law, LL.B., 1963
U.S. Army Private, 1958-1960
Law clerk, Hon. Michael J. Eagen, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, 1963-1964
Private practice, Scranton, Pennsylvania, 1964-1977
Arbitrator, U.S. Steel and Steel Workers of America, 1970-1977
Arbitrator, U.S. Postal Service Expedited Arbitration Panel, 1972-1977
Arbitrator, Middle Atlantic Expedited Arbitration Panel, 1972-1977
Hearing examiner, Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, 1973-1977
Judge, Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas, Forty-fifth Judicial District, 1978-1998
Race or Ethnicity: White
I’d guess they are waiting to rule to see which way the legal winds are blowing and if any other court is headed in their direction.
No. It doesn't. God provides rights. This has nothing to do with evoking sympathy. They're breaking the law. They have no right to break the law. How is it possible that a judge can fail to recognize these simple truths?
This is typical of the twisted logic of communists in black robes.
What about US citizens who see their rights violated everyday by illegals and their government supporters?
If citizens can’t petition the courts or the executive or the legislative branches for relief, the crooked judges are setting the stage for another remedy, as they did in the Fugitive Slave act ruling in 1851.
How come diversity is good, but patchwork is bad?
any recent polls?
Thanks.....if you come across any numbers, kindly let me know..best