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Saturday, December 06, 2014

Ind. Gov't. - "Experts See Legal Hazards in States’ Immigration Suit"

Updating two earlier ILB posts (Dec. 3 - "Gov. joins suit against President Barack Obama over immigration, but AG Zoeller will not participate" and Dec. 5 - ""Pence using outside counsel for immigration lawsuit""), here is a story in today's Indianapolis Star from Maureen Groppe, of the Gannett DC Bureau, that reports:

WASHINGTON — Indiana may not have the legal ability to sue President Barack Obama over his executive action on immigration, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said Friday.

Zoeller declined this week to handle the state's challenge, instead allowing Gov. Mike Pence to hire outside counsel to sign onto a multistate suit led by Texas.

That suit aims to stop Obama from providing work permits and protection from deportation to as many as 5 million immigrants in the country illegally.

Zoeller said it's unclear that Indiana and the 16 other states challenging the action can show they're sufficiently affected by it.

"Most of us might disagree as to whether states have standing or not," Zoeller said in a call with reporters about a letter he and other attorneys general signed urging Congress to overhaul immigration laws. "It's probably a tough question that is best left for the court." * * *

Zoeller said he's not criticizing Pence for challenging the president's actions, which Zoeller said may in fact be unconstitutional.

But Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, who co-authored with Zoeller the letter sent Friday to congressional leaders, pointed out that a federal judge ruled last year that the Mississippi governor could not challenge an Obama administration initiative to give temporary reprieve from deportation to illegal immigrants who arrived when they were children.

"Greg, or any other attorney general contemplating a governor jumping into litigation, has got to review that decision and take pause that the federal court has already found that the state didn't have standing to file that action," Hood said.

The NY Times today has a story by Julia Preston, headed "Experts See Legal Hazards in States’ Immigration Suit," that reports:
A group of 20 states that filed a federal lawsuit this week against President Obama’s executive action on immigration could face difficult legal and factual hurdles, legal experts said, because federal courts have been skeptical of similar claims in the past.

Several lawyers said the states could have a hard time convincing the federal courts that they could suffer specific harms as a result of Mr. Obama’s actions. Those harms are the legal foundation for them to bring the suit.

“The injury the states are alleging seems a bit speculative,” said Cristina Rodriguez, a professor of immigration and constitutional law at Yale Law School. “In many ways this is a political document,” she said of the suit, adding, “It feels more rhetorical than legal.” * * *

In a conference call on Friday, the attorneys general from two states named on the plaintiffs’ list distanced themselves to some degree from the lawsuit and sought to turn the pressure on Congress to pass a more permanent immigration overhaul. Greg Zoeller of Indiana, a Republican, and Jim Hood of Mississippi, a Democrat, released a bipartisan letter they signed with 16 other state attorneys general calling on Congress to act.

Mr. Zoeller said he agreed with Gov. Mike Pence, also Republican, “on the very serious constitutional questions that the president’s action raises.” But he advised the governor to seek an outside lawyer to represent Indiana in the immigration lawsuit because it would be “somewhat distracting” for Mr. Zoeller when he was working to convince lawmakers in Washington “to come together and do the hard work of legislation.”

Mr. Hood said Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican, had joined the lawsuit but that the State of Mississippi had not. Mr. Hood said that after Mr. Bryant joined a similar lawsuit several years ago, he had been dismissed from the case by the judge.

The new lawsuit, Mr. Hood said, “was governor-driven litigation which involves policy and drags us into litigation we might not initiate on our own.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 6, 2014 10:40 AM
Posted to Indiana Government