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Jan Brewer loses bid to dismiss Arizona immigration law case

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer speaks to reporters outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, April 25, 2012, after the court's hearing on Arizona's "show me your papers" immigration law. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

A judge has rejected a request by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to partially dismiss one of three remaining legal challenges to the state’s 2010 immigration law, ruling that the people who filed the lawsuit in question had legal standing to contest the law because they properly alleged that they would be harmed by its enforcement.

The ruling on Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton means the 10 people behind the lawsuit can continue pushing their argument in court that the law should be overturned in its entirety.

The governor’s lawyers had argued that those who filed the challenge hadn’t shown that they would be harmed because their alleged injuries were too speculative.

Attorneys pressing the case contended, in part, that their clients faced increased risk of being stopped by police under the law because of their appearances and limited English proficiency. They also argued that two sections of the law can’t be enforced in a race-neutral way.

Bolton wrote it was realistic that police will rely on physical and linguistic characteristics in enforcing two sections of the law that the judge herself blocked officers from enforcing in 2010.

The blocked provisions would require police to question the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally and allow police to arrest people without warrants in cases where they commit crimes that make them removable from the United States.

The governor had asked to have the 10 people who filed the lawsuit dismissed, but she wasn’t seeking the removal of 14 organizations that also were plaintiffs in the case. Bolton had concluded earlier that groups had legal standing, Brewer’s attorneys said in court papers.

Brewer spokesman Matt Benson said the governor had no plans to appeal the ruling and characterized Tuesday’s ruling as a procedural development. “The decision is unfortunate in that regard, but this is not a monumental thing,” Benson said.

Bolton has prevented the law’s most controversial elements from being enforced. The governor appealed Bolton’s ruling and took the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court after a lower appeals court rejected her request to let the blocked sections take effect.

The Supreme Court heard arguments in Brewer’s appeal in late April.

During arguments over the law, liberal and conservative justices reacted skeptically to the Obama administration’s argument that Arizona exceeded its authority in creating the requirement that police check people’s immigration status and the provision allowing suspected illegal immigrants to be arrested without a warrant. A decision in the case is expected in late June.

Three of the seven challenges to the Arizona law remain alive. No trial date has been scheduled in the three cases.

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