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Tag Archives: Obama administration

Arizona immigration law challenge could end in a tie

Gov. Jan Brewer and attorney Paul Clement, far right, leaving the Supreme Court Wednesday after oral arguments in Arizona v. U.S. (Photo: Kimberly Atkins, Lawyers USA)

There is bad news and good news for the Obama administration as it seeks to have Arizona’s controversial immigration enforcement law SB 1070 struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The bad news: four out of the eight justices who heard the case today seemed to side squarely on the side of Arizona officials who say the state statute does not conflict with federal immigration law. (Justice Elena Kagan recused herself, likely because she was involved in the challenge while she was Obama’s solicitor general).

If, as it seemed, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and presumably Clarence Thomas (Thomas does not speak during oral arguments, but he is a vocal opponent of the doctrine of implied preemption) are inclined to rule in favor of the state, the best the federal government can do in its challenge is tie – assuming noted swing voter Justice Anthony M. Kennedy votes in the administration’s favor.

But the good news is that a tie would be a win in this case. If the Court splits, the case goes back to the 9th Circuit, which has already given a strong indication that it would strike down the law when it upheld a preliminary injunction preventing the law from going into effect.

Much more on the arguments later on Lawyers USA online.

Who is the Supreme Court’s first disabled justice?

When Justice Sonia Sotomayor won confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, much was made of the fact that she was the first Latina to sit on the bench. Likewise, the confirmation of Justice Elena Kagan marked the first time the Court featured three women.

But now the Obama administration, in touting its judicial appointment record, is hailing another judicial milestone: the confirmation of the first disabled justice on the Court.

That sent some Court watchers and writers momentarily scratching their heads and asking who that justice might be. Sure, a few of the justices wear glasses, and Sotomayor has been seen sporting a cast or brace on her ankle or knee, but those were due to injuries she suffered, not a permanent disability.

But Sotomayor does fall within the definition of disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act because the justice is a diabetic. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a child.

The disease has clearly not held Sotomayor back, causing some like New York magazine’s Dan Amira to question whether it “substantially limits one or more of a [her] major life activities” under the ADA. But under the 2008 ADA Amendments Act, that is no longer necessary. Diabetes fits the bill because it “substantially limits endocrine function.

New ADA service animal regs don’t monkey around

Those claiming that their pet monkeys, reptiles or ferrets are service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act should take heed of new regulations set to go into effect soon.

Those regs, issued last year but delayed until the Obama administration could get its Justice Department Civil Rights Division fully in place, are set to be enforced by the end of the year.

The new clarified standards bar rabbits, farm animals, ferrets, rodents, amphibians, and wild animals – including monkeys or any other primate born in captivity – from being used as service animals.

Even Fifi, your lovable Bichon Frise, won’t qualify unless she has been individually and specifically trained “do work or perform tasks for the benefit of individuals with disabilities” under the Act, such as retrieving a phone or medication, assisting during a seizure, providing physical support or navigation assistance. Just being cute won’t cut it. “[A]nimals whose sole function is to provide emotional support, comfort, therapy, companionship, therapeutic benefits, or promote emotional well-being are not service animals.” Sorry, Fifi.

More here from The Seattle Times.