Supreme Court halts order allowing illegal immigrants bail in Arizona

Nov 7, 2014, 3:56 PM | Updated: 4:00 pm

PHOENIX — Undocumented immigrants will still not be allowed bail in Arizona after the Supreme Court halted Friday a ruling by the 9th Circuit that would have allowed those accused of certain felonies to make bail.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 15 that a voter-approved Arizona law denying bail to immigrants in the country illegally who are charged with a range of felonies that include shoplifting, aggravated identity theft, sexual assault and murder was unconstitutional.

An 11-member panel of the 9th Circuit ruled the law violates due-process rights by imposing punishment before trial. The court 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.

The 9th Circuit panel wrote that there were no studies, statistics or other evidence showing that people in the country illegally pose a greater risk of fleeing from authorities than people in the country legally.

“This is an instance where the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is substituting themselves as some sort of super legislature and substituting their judgment for the judgment of the elected representatives in Arizona and the voters in Arizona,” said Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio aide Jack MacIntyre.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said the repealing of the voter-approved law would flood county courts with bail hearings and possibly allow flight-risk criminals to go free.

The Supreme Court stay issued Friday means the law effectively remains in place. Plaintiffs in the case have until Monday at noon to file a brief.

The law stemmed from Proposition 100, which received a 78 percent approval rating from voters in the 2006 election.

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 appeals court 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Supreme Court halts order allowing illegal immigrants bail in Arizona