A federal judge will hear arguments July 22 on the request by the U.S. Department of Justice to block Arizona's new immigration law from taking effect.
At a hearing Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton ordered the newest of the challenges to SB 1070 transferred to her court. That puts her in control of all six lawsuits already filed.
Bolton also gave Gov. Jan Brewer until July 20 to respond to the arguments by the Department of Justice that the law illegally infringes on the exclusive right of the federal government to control immigration policy.
That July 22 hearing actually will be the third time that Bolton will hear arguments to enjoin the law.
She already has scheduled a hearing for a week from Thursday on a similar motion by David Salgado. The Phoenix police officer contends his rights are being violated by a requirement in the law that he ask those he has stopped about their immigration status when there is "reasonable suspicion" they are in this country illegally. Salgado also said another section of SB 1070 puts him at risk of being sued if he doesn't enforce the law "to the fullest extent permitted by federal immigration law."
And Bolton already agreed to hear arguments earlier in the day on July 22 from attorneys from three civil rights groups who contend not only that the state has exceeded its legal authority but that SB 1070 will lead to racial profiling.
But Bolton told attorneys in the newest case Wednesday that, given the time involved, she may be unable to rule on their request for an injunction before the law takes effect on July 29.
Generally speaking, a judge must consider two issues when deciding on a request to block enforcement of a new law.
One is what courts call the "balance of hardships," which essentially comes down to whose interests will be more hurt. Attorneys for the Department of Justice argued in their pleadings that if SB 1070 takes effect it will "inflict irreparable injury on the United States' ability to manage foreign policy." They also say it will "harm U.S. interests by imposing special burdens on lawfully present aliens."
The state has not yet responded to the latest lawsuit. But in a response to the Salgado request for an injunction, attorneys for Brewer argued that any claim of irreparable harm is "speculative."
That, however, is only half the issue. A judge must also consider which side is more likely to win when the entire case goes to trial.
Such a trial is not likely to take place for months, whether or not Bolton agrees to block enforcement of the law in the interim.