Federal appeals court strikes down Arizona bail law for immigrants

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 15, 2014 3:31 PM

(Reuters) - A regional federal appeals court struck down an Arizona law on Wednesday that denied bail to some immigrants who are in the United States illegally and charged with some serious felonies.

An 11-member panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a decision by a lower court and agreed with plaintiffs including the American Civil Liberties Union who had argued that it violated due process rights.

The ballot measure was passed with overwhelming support by Arizona voters in 2006 to amend the state's constitution to preclude bail for certain serious felony offenses if the person charged has entered or remained in the country illegally.

But the appeals court said the move did not address an acute problem, was not limited to a specific category of very serious offenses and did not consider the individual factors needed to determine if a suspect is a flight risk.

Writing for the majority, 9th Circuit Judge Raymond Fisher said the U.S. Constitution protects every person within the nation's borders from deprivation of life, liberty or property without due process of law.

Even if some undocumented immigrants pose an unmanageable flight risk, Fisher wrote, Arizona's amendment "plainly is not carefully limited because it employs an overbroad, irrebuttable presumption rather than an individualized hearing" to determine each suspect's case.

(Reporting by Daniel Wallis in Denver; Editing by Eric Walsh)