Breaking ... Hazelton illegal immigration law struck down in federal court

By Oz Posted in Comments (27) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

Bad news!

federal judge has struck down the Hazelton law that attempted to regulate illegal immigration.

The judge states:

In a 206-page opinion, U.S. District Judge James M. Munley stated "federal law prohibits Hazleton from enforcing any of the provisions of its ordinance."

The full decision is here.

Just did a quick Wikipedia search on him, and, according to the listing on the Federal District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Munley has served on the court since 1998.

Guess who that means installed him? I know, huge surprise...

"The world is filled with violence. Because criminals carry guns, we decent, law-abiding citizens should also have guns. Otherwise they will win and the decent people will lose." - James Earl Jones

Mikefisk's comment betrays a misapprehension of the judicial function. I know nothing of Judge Munley's work, and haven't read the opinion in question, and for all I know Munley's a partisan hack and the opinion shows it. But judges acting consistent with their oaths will regularly render opinions completely at odds with the positions they'd take as political partisans, and I know of no basis for assuming that Democratic judicial appointees are more likely to reach result-oriented opinions than are Republican appointees.

Unless mikefisk has information I hope he'll share with the rest of us, his post is an unwarranted canard. Unfortunately, the reflex it displays actually promotes the notion that judges can be expected to tailor their analyses to the political inclinations of those appointing them, and thereby probably makes it more likely they will, to the loss of the rule of law and the well-being of the republic.

This may or may not be a results-oriented opinion, and it may be true that Democratic and Republican judges are equally likely to be "results-oriented."

But judges appointed by Democrats and judges appointed by Republicans approach the law in fundamentally different ways. Accordingly, judges appointed by Democrats typically come to more liberal results. Look at the Supreme Court. Look at the 9th Circuit. That's why lawyers forum shop. So I don't think Mikefisk is unwarranted in complaining about this judge. Either there is something wrong with the approach or some something wrong with the result

But what is the "liberal" or "conservative" result in a case challenging a local ordinance regarding immigration? As I said, I haven't read the opinion, much less the ordinance involved or the cases cited, but my idea of a "conservative result" from a federal trial judge is one applying the law as it's been given to him. His views on illegal immigration should be irrelevent. If this results in the demise of the local ordinance and a flood of illegal immigrants, it's still the result I want.

And is there any objective evidence to support the statement that "judges appointed by Democrats typically come to more liberal results"? (Whatever that means). The great majority of judges. state or federal, are trial judges; is Baltimore Lawmen really saying we can discern their politics from their rulings in, say, the hum-drum tort and criminal cases that make up the bulk of their docket?

For instance, when you're working an FLSA case, you pretty much always want the Democrat-appointed trial-level judge if you're a plaintiff and the Republican-appointed trial-level judge if you're a defendant. That's the conventional wisdom, and lawyers a lot more experienced than I follow it. So yes, even trial-level federal judges make politically oriented decisions on a daily basis, about far more than the FLSA.

IWhen I practiced it never would have entered my head to forum shop to find a judge appointed by one party or another. To the extent forum-shopping was an option, one might look for a judge with a proven disposition to go your way in the case at hand, but the political affiliation of the person making the appointment is a pretty weak prognosticator.

Anyway, this leaves unanswered my question: what is a "liberal result" in any given case? Surely, in the case at hand, those of us favoring judges guarded in their exercise of discretion would view with disfavor any trial judge decision reflecting anything other than strict adherence to the established law, as applicable to the facts of record. As I said at the outset, I'd have to know the law and record in great detail to be able to say how I'd come out, much less to say that any other result is so clearly at odds with law and fact as to warrant the inference of impermissable considerations. Hence my feeling that mikefisk's "aha--the judge was appointed by a democrat" was a naive and unconstructive contribution.

Well by zuiko

I know of no basis for assuming that Democratic judicial appointees are more likely to reach result-oriented opinions than are Republican appointees.

Except for the long track record of liberal judges making stuff up out of whole cloth. Now a good number of those liberal judges were inadvertently appointed by Republicans, but the Democrats manage a much better record there. Very often a judicial nominee ends up much more liberal than expected... the opposite doesn't happen very often.
Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. - Milton Friedman

seated by Democrats have indeed used their benches for their particular brand of liberalism and by great luck the worst of them the 9th circuit gets overturned routinely because their liberal views are beyond the pale. I am thinking you are viewing these liberal opinions through rose colored classes if you really do not see the bias.

I skimmed the opinion, and it looks like it is well-founded. The court ruled that the federal government has sole authority in terms of deciding who has legal status and who does not, and state or local governments cannot usurp that federal power. Apart from that, the libertarian in me is creeped out by the requirement that both citizens and non-citizens must get an official government permit granting permission to rent a place to live. It would be one thing just to have landlords check I.D.s, but to have more red tape and more government seems nuts.

I understand the frustration these localities feel. If the federal government would just take action, this type of illegal action by cities wouldn't be necessary. Unfortunately, the feds seem to feel there are only two choices: do nothing, or legally open up the borders.

If this decision is correct on the law (and it looks that way), the answer is to lobby to get federal law changed.

So by zuiko

The court ruled that the federal government has sole authority in terms of deciding who has legal status and who does not, and state or local governments cannot usurp that federal power.

Maybe you could point out the parts of the ordinance that attempted to override Federal statute, either revoking legal residence from those who would have it under Federal law, or granting it to those who would not?
Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. - Milton Friedman

The other posters have tended to miss how overly broad this opinion is. It takes the essentially correct posture that immigration is a federal issue, and then broadens that to mean cities cannot use illegal status as a criteria for some restrictions. This will be overturned by the Circuit Court so fast, particularly those sections that deal with business licenses (which can be withheld for any number of crimes) so fast that your head will spin.

I do agree that who appointed this judge is irrelevant. It is just a bad decision and one doomed to reversal.

I agree with everything except that the Third Circuit will overturn this. The Third is one of the more liberal circuits, and one that Dubya has had difficulty filling some of the open vacancies on.

You very well may be right, but when this reaches another Circuit Court we will have a quick split (if the Third does as you suggest) and the opinion will be reduced to hash at the USSC. I just read the opinion again, and it has taken a broad principle, and applied it where it certainly has no basis to do so (licenses, permits, and so forth). The obvious implications about federalism aside, this is such a dunderheaded decision it won't withstand much judicial scrutiny even if it has to go all the way up. This may be so egregious even the Third Circuit will strike it down, but I trust you know the score better there so we'll have to await the split.

The municipality wasn't saying who has legal status and who does not. If they had been, then that would have indeed been an unconstitutional encroachment on the federal government's power.

However, the municipality was simply enforcing the federal government's legal/illegal resident status law. Just because a law is a federal law doesn't mean that the federal government is the only one who can enforce it. If that were the case, we'd need an entirely additional level of federal bureaucracy, a federal police force, to blanket the country to be sure that federal law is enforced.

Drug laws are federal, so can local police not enforce drug laws? We would all consider that proposition to be entirely outrageous - just as this ruling is outrageous.

Will judges rule that the City Police or County Sherif can not assist Highway Patrol (State Troopers) when a high-speed chase is under way and cross jurisdictional boundries?

Man, What will that do to the Southern California high-speed pursuits that now go on for hours, crossing from locale to locale on end?

Will one State never apprehend a criminal that crosses the State line?

SOLUTION - Open season for bounty hunters as that will be the only leagal way to return criminals to the court!

They weren't even enforcing the federal law, they were saying, based on your status as determined under federal law, we are adding these requirements to our licensing/ownership/rental procedures. Something which is clearly within the purview of a local or state government.

I think it would be more libertarian for the federal government to stay out of the local government's business. If we let more localities make their own decisions, people would be free to choose to live in more libertarian communities or more statist communities. You would promote freedom more by letting small groups of people govern themselves, then by having a large federal government imposing uniform laws on all localities, some of which promote libertarian ideals but most of which don't.

...a "misapprehension of the judicial function"? You admit that you know nothing of Judge Munley's work and haven't read the opinion, so it is entirely possible that your post reflects a "misapprehension of the judicial function", lola5. Mikefisk says nowhere that Democratic judicial appointees are more likely to reach result-oriented opinions(whatever that means) than are Republicans. This is your inference. Maybe someone here will fetch you proof of this inference, maybe not.

To pretend that judicial philosophy is only of tangential interest to political parties because judges "regularly render opinions completely at odds with the positions they'd take as political partisans", is to ignore the huge confirmation fights over judicial nominees' records, opinions and judicial philosophies. If dim legislators on both sides of the aisle recognize the tactical importance of having "their" judges seated, why can't you?

The unwarranted canard here is your statement of blind faith in the unbiased impartiality of our judicial system.

The point is that one would have to read a decision carefully, and know the law intimately, to be able to say that the decison is so wildly outside the realm of reason that it's even a fair inference that the politics of the decisionmaker drove the outcome. Yet if this isn't what mikefisk was implying, I've no idea what he intended by his triumphant "gotcha, guess who appointed Munley."

I didn't say what blooch attributes to me in his second paragraph, so a reply is unnecessary. I will say that, having tried many cases, my professional life would have been far easier had I been able to ascribe results to the political affiliation of the judge or the person appointing him or her; more often than not I had to blame an unfavorable outcome on the judge's mental defects. Of course, that may be another way of saying the judge was a Democratic appointee.

The judge is saying that while local law enforcement officials can enforce federal laws, local laws can't make it difficult for people to skirt them.

It's a stretch, to be sure.

Analyzing a judge's attitude from his opinion is sometimes difficult, because it's easy to read in bias where none exists. But in the first footnote of the decision, the judge says

1The parties vary in their use of the terms “illegal alien,” “unauthorized alien,” “illegal immigrant” and “undocumented alien.” We will use the terms interchangeably.

The judge soon afterward notes that the ordinance defined "illegal alien" as someone having an "unlawful presence" in the country as defined by 8 USC §1101. But that section defines "immigrant" as a certain kind of alien, rather than specifically saying which kind of alien is present lawfully and which is not.

So he summarize immigration law, concluding:

A third category of aliens present in the country are “undocumented aliens” who lack lawful immigration status. These aliens may have overstayed their time in the United States or entered the country illegally. (Id. at 113). The number of these individuals is approximately twelve million. (Id.). Hazleton’s use of the term “illegal alien” evidently is aimed at these individuals.

Perhaps this conflict in terminology is just an artifact of the judge doing the low-level work at one time and the footnotes at another, but he seems to show a definite preference for the term "undocumented".

And of what use is mentioning the "12 million" number?

He then assesses the standing of each plaintiff (some of whom were illegals, some not). He does so by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for standing, which he summarizes. However, for each of the defendants (though I skimmed some here) he assumes that it was the Hazleton ordinance that caused the injury to the plaintiffs, not the Federal law in which they or their prospective customers were in violation.

The judge appears to have adduced from the evidence at trial that the Hazleton ordinance "created a climate of fear" among legitimate businesses and legal aliens. He returns to that again and again in reasoning that the ordinance, not the Federal law, is to blame for the plaintiff's troubles. He does so in part because:

... The business-owner plaintiffs do not complain that the ordinances limit their ability to sell products to and hire illegal aliens. They complain that the City’s ordinances damage them by hindering the operation of their businesses and by requiring them to seek immigration information from employees in a way that violates federal law.

And there is the nugget of it: he agrees with the plaintiffs that the locality can't have an ordinance which discriminates based on compliance with Federal law.

So we have a new protected class: Federal lawbreakers.

Gone 2500 years, still not PC.

555 by zuiko

Nice analysis. There's nothing reasonable about this decision.
Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. - Milton Friedman

Even if political preference were involved, why should we be surprised if Bush appointed him. Certainly he is just as much in favor of illegal immigration as most Democrats. The same goes for Reagan, from what I've heard. A good fraction of Republicans who are otherwise conservative favor illegal immigration.

I realize that. I meant that it should not have been a surprise IF Bush HAD appointed him.

sent me an email to let me know they will of course appeal this decision and that a lot of lawyers helped draft this law so that it is in keeping with the Federal Laws so whether it is the first appeal or subsequent appeals this will be overturned and Hazelton will get to enforce their laws because Federal Law thusly states you cannot harbor or help illegal immigrants and because of that this law will stand.

I can not believe that a federal judge struck down this law. I guess now I can rent 1000 warehouses all over the USA and I can rent them to hijackers and car thieves on purpose.

Yes I can charge them a higher rent and now get big bucks for suppling these tear down facilities and locations for stolen goods everywhere. See I can do this knowingly because I know that there is illegal activity going on inside and in fact I can even promote these locations to this criminal group of people................ and it is OK with this moron......... they call a judge!


Redstate Network Login:
(lost password?)

©2008 Eagle Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. Legal, Copyright, and Terms of Service