Arizona draws difficult panel for immigration appeal

October 25, 2010
by Josh Gerstein, for Politico

It looks like the state of Arizona and Governor Jan Brewer could be facing an uphill battle in their effort to overturn a judge’s ruling that the state’s law cracking down on illegal immigration, SB 1070, is unconstitutional.

On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit announced the three judges assigned to the state’s appeal, which is to be argued on Monday. They are: John Noonan, Richard Paez and Carlos Bea.

Courtwatchers say the panel, which will convene at the court’s headquarters in San Francisco, could be a tough one for Arizona. The state’s law has been blasted as anti-Latino and likely to lead to racial profiling. Two of the three judges are of Hispanic descent: Paez was born in Utah of Mexican immigrant parents; Bea was born in Spain but grew up in Cuba before coming to the U.S. with his family.

For her part, Brewer has announced she plans to attend Monday’s hour-long arguments in person in San Francisco, even though she is up for re-election the next day. Polls show her with a comfortable lead of more than 10 percent over her Democratic challenger, Attorney General Terry Goddard. Her championing of SB1070 has been a centerpiece of her campaign and she will certainly make the local news back home for attending the court arguments, which are to be carried live on C-SPAN.