The American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund are challenging the Arizona law that denies bail to illegal immigrants accused of serious crimes.
Both groups claim Proposition 100, the 2006 citizens initiative, is unconstitutional because it denies hearings to individual defendants as to whether they are a flight risk or a danger to the community.
Named as defendants in the suit are Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Superior Court Presiding Judge Barbara Rodriguez Mundell.
"We're not asking that anyone be released from jail," said lawyer Steve Monde, one of those participating in the lawsuit.
"We're asking that they be permitted like all other criminal defendants in Arizona to have their day in court to have the court determine whether they're flight risks," Monde said.
Judge Mundell could not be reached for comment.
A sheriff's office representative wondered why the sheriff would even be named since he doesn't set bail or make laws.
And Thomas issued a statement saying: "Just as I helped draft and led the fight for passage of Proposition 100, I will vigorously defend this law in federal court.
"The ACLU is wrong to challenge this reform, which was approved by 78 percent of Arizona voters."
An attorney for the groups that brought the suit rejected Thomas' argument.
"Just because something is popular doesn't mean it's lawful," lawyer Kristina Campbell said.
The suit also claims that through Proposition 100, the sheriff's office unlawfully usurps federal authority on immigration matters by checking immigration status for prosecution under state laws.
"The very real problems facing Arizona with illegal immigration can't override the Constitution of the United States, and that's what we're trying to uphold," Monde said.