Bloomberg News

South Carolina Seeks to Halt Challenges to Immigration Law

December 15, 2011

(Updates with state’s argument in fourth paragraph.)

Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) -- South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley asked a judge to temporarily halt a lawsuit over the state’s new statutes aimed at immigrants while the U.S. Supreme Court considers a challenge to Arizona’s immigration law.

“To say that this case before the Supreme Court is important to the instant suit would be an understatement,” South Carolina’s lawyers said in a filing today in federal court in Charleston. “A ruling by the Supreme Court in Arizona is likely to resolve most or all of the issues in the instant case.”

The state is seeking to freeze lawsuits brought by the Justice Department and civil liberties advocates to block South Carolina’s laws from taking effect on Jan. 1. The contested measures include making it a crime for immigrants to fail to carry papers showing they’re in the U.S. legally and requiring police officers to verify the immigration status of anyone suspected of being an illegal alien.

The federal government has argued that the South Carolina statute interferes with its ability to set national immigration policy, while rights groups claim it violates the Constitution’s protection against unreasonable searches and guarantees of due process. The U.S. has also challenged immigration laws passed this year by Alabama and Utah.

The Supreme Court said on Dec. 12 it would review an appellate court ruling that blocked enforcement of the Arizona measure.

U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel ordered the U.S. and the civil rights organizations to respond to the Haley administration’s request no later than tomorrow. A hearing on whether enforcement of the laws should be blocked is scheduled for Dec. 19.

The cases are U.S. v. South Carolina, 11cv2958, and Lowcountry Immigration Coalition v. Haley, 11cv2779, U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina (Charleston).

--Editor: Fred Strasser, Stephen Farr

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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