For Immediate Release
Supreme Court Hears Challenge To Arizona Employer Sanctions Law
ACLU, MALDEF And NILC Charge Discriminatory Law Is Unconstitutional
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments today in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting,
the first challenge to the recent wave of state and local
anti-immigrant laws to reach the Supreme Court. The case, brought by a
broad coalition of civil rights and business groups including the
American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Arizona, MALDEF, the National
Immigration Law Center (NILC) and the United States Chamber of Commerce,
challenges an Arizona law that imposes penalties on businesses that the
state determines have employed workers not lawfully authorized to work
in the U.S.
One of the strictest such state laws in the nation, the Arizona scheme
imposes severe sanctions on employers who have hired unauthorized
workers and improperly requires all employers in the state to
participate in an employment verification database system, E-Verify,
that is explicitly voluntary under federal law. The coalition's lawsuit
charges that the Arizona law conflicts with federal law and violates the
Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. The United States Justice
Department has filed a brief supporting the coalition's position.
The following quotes can be attributed as stated:
Omar C. Jadwat, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project:
"Arizona's employer sanctions law is an unwise, unfair and
unconstitutional attempt to unilaterally override federal law that
creates an unacceptable risk of discrimination against lawful workers.
The Court should firmly reject the Arizona law."
Linton Joaquin, National Immigration Law Center General Counsel:
"In enacting comprehensive regulation of immigrant employment in 1986,
Congress expressly prohibited state laws such as the Legal Arizona
Workers Act. Arguments presented today illustrated the dangers workers
and employers face from such unjust and unconstitutional state efforts
to create their own immigration regulations. We are hopeful that the
Court will finally put this matter to rest and quell the rising tide of
state-level anti-immigrant legislation, which would result in an
untenable system of patchwork immigration policy."
Cynthia Valenzuela Dixon, MALDEF Director of Litigation:
"We hope that after hearing oral argument today, the Supreme Court
understands and agrees that Arizona's unconstitutional law carries with
it serious civil rights implications. Congress created E-Verify as a
voluntary program for good reason. The government's own studies show
that E-Verify is riddled with problems, and that the error rates are
significantly higher for naturalized citizens, foreign-born workers with
employment authorization, and workers with non-English surnames.
Allowing states and local jurisdictions to mandate what Congress made
voluntary would blatantly disregard the civil rights protections that
Congress purposely put into place."
Attorneys representing the plaintiffs Valle del Sol, Chicanos por la
Causa and Somos America include Jadwat, Lucas Guttentag and Jennifer
Chang Newell of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project; Daniel Pochoda of
the ACLU of Arizona; Jonathan Weissglass and Stephen Berzon of Altshuler
Berzon LLP; Valenzuela Dixon of MALDEF; and Joaquin and Karen C. Tumlin
More information about the case is available online at: www.aclu.org/immigrants-
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.