Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio racially profiled Latino drivers in his campaign to crack down on illegal immigration, a federal judge declared on Friday.
May 24, 2013

Sheriff Joe's Answer to School Safety: Armed Civilian Posse.

Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio racially profiled Latino drivers in his campaign to crack down on illegal immigration, a federal judge declared on Friday. The ruling was the result of a class-action lawsuit contending that the sheriff improperly stopped, detained, and questioned drivers of Hispanic descent going back to 2007, thus violating their constitutional rights. The judge has ordered Arpaio, who runs Phoenix’s Maricopa County and calls himself “America’s sheriff,” to cease using race as a factor in law-enforcement decisions. Arpaio’s office has yet to comment on the ruling.


Snow’s ruling will likely be appealed, as both sides promised throughout the trial to challenge whatever decision Snow rendered. However, Arpaio’s attorney said he was still reviewing the ruling Friday afternoon.

Dan Pochoda of the Arizona chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union called the ruling “a real vindication for the community. It was a terrific win — it was a very solid, comprehensive piece of work, and clearly demonstrated the unconstitutionality from top to bottom at MCSO for many years.”

The class of Hispanic citizens that brought the racial-profiling lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Office never sought monetary damages. Instead, the group asked for the court to issue injunctions barring Arpaio’s office from discriminatory policing.

Snow obliged — and indicated more remedies could be ordered in the future.

“Therefore, in the absence of further facts that would give rise to reasonable suspicion or probable cause that a violation of either federal criminal law or applicable state law is occurring, the MCSO is enjoined from (1) enforcing its LEAR policy (on checking the immigration status of people detained without state charges), (2) using Hispanic ancestry or race as any factor in making law enforcement decisions pertaining to whether a person is authorized to be in the country, and (3) unconstitutionally lengthening stops,” Snow wrote in his 142-page ruling.

“The evidence introduced at trial establishes that, in the past, the MCSO has aggressively protected its right to engage in immigration and immigration–related enforcement operations even when it had no accurate legal basis for doing so,” Show said.

Arpaio will no doubt want to appeal, but this ruling (You can read it here) will no doubt be difficult to reverse. It's full of pesky facts about the Constitution and rights. Maybe it will be a peaceful Memorial Day weekend in Maricopa County.

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