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Employer sanctions trial over, ruling expected by year's end

A federal judge heard arguments Nov. 14 in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s employer sanctions law and indicated he would rule on the lawsuit before the penalties of the law go into effect in January.

Judge Neil Wake will rule on several motions made in the case, including motions to dismiss and to impose an injunction against the law, based on the oral arguments presented by attorneys during the one-day trial.

Wake seemed critical of the arguments from the plaintiffs – nearly a dozen business trade groups and advocacy organizations filed the suit – and he repeatedly questioned whether there was even standing for the court to rule on the law since the penalties had yet to go into effect.

“I’m struggling to find where the real injury is,” he said during the proceedings.

But attorney Louis Moffa said the mere existence of the law and the threat of prosecution of businesses that violate it constitutes standing.

“All we have to do to get Your Honor to rule on the merits is prove there are people who will be hurt by this law,” he said.

Further, Moffa said, businesses are required to sign up for the federal E-Verify online employee verification program, which is voluntary under federal law but required in the Arizona measure. At issue was not how much it would cost in staff training to implement the program, only that it would cost something to do so, he said.

Arguments in the trial lasted more than four hours. A ruling is expected by the end of the year.

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