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The Judge Behind the Decision Striking Down Parts of Arizona’s Anti-Immigration Law

federal district court judge susan bolton author of decision striking down arizona anti immigration law

Judge Susan Bolton

Susan R. Bolton is a federal district court judge in the District of Arizona, which is part of the 9th circuit. She gained national attention with her July 28, 2010 ruling that struck down the parts of an Arizona law that criminalized the status of undocumented immigrants and gave state or local police the power to arrest undocumented immigrants. (Read Bolton’s full decision here.)

The ruling was issued one day before the law was to take effect. Bolton is handling all lawsuits filed against the state’s immigration law, known as SB1070. As of late July, 2010, there were seven such lawsuits.

“There is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens,” Bolton wrote. “By enforcing this statute, Arizona would impose a ‘distinct, unusual and extraordinary’ burden on legal resident aliens that only the federal government has the authority to impose.”

Following the recommendation of Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, a Republican, Bolton was nominated to the bench by President Bill Clinton on July 21, 2000, to a seat vacated by Robert C. Broomfield. She’d been Maricopa County Superior Court judge since 1989, where she was a registered Independent. The U.S. Senate confirmed Bolton on Oct. 3, 2000, by unanimous consent.

Bolton was born in 1951 in Philadelphia.

Here are other key rulings, as listed by the Arizona Republic:

January 2010: Rules that Arizona cannot legally bar residents of other states from helping a political party get on the ballot here, rejecting arguments by Secretary of State Ken Bennett that allowing only Arizona residents to circulate these political petitions is necessary to prevent fraud. The decision was considered a victory for the Green Party.

• February 2008: Upheld a designation of critical habitat in Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico for the Mexican spotted owl despite an effort by the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association to overturn it.

• February 2002: Sentenced a smuggler to 16 years in prison for leading 14 illegal immigrants to their deaths in the desert between Yuma and Ajo.

• 2002: Ruled that Border Patrol officials had legal immunity and couldn’t be sued for their part in a 1997 immigrant roundup that led to 430 arrests and drew complaints that Hispanics who were U.S. citizens were harassed because of their appearance.

• 2000: Struck from the ballot a land-preservation proposal advanced by the Arizona Legislature that was a bid to counter a similar proposal by environmentalists that remained on the ballot. Bolton said the Legislature’s proposal violated a state constitutional requirement that ballot measures cannot cover more than one subject. Critics called Bolton an activist judge, and accused her of working with the environmentalists to torpedo the Legislature’s option.

The Arizona Republic reported on July 21, 2010:

The consensus among members of the legal community interviewed for this story is that she’s the right person to have making such an important decision.

“She’s very smart, very well prepared, very quick to cut to the core of things,” said Robert Bartels, an Arizona State University law professor. “She’s a terrific administrator. She just really gets things done quickly, but still well.”

Lawyers are happy when they draw Bolton as the judge for their cases because they know they’ll get a fair shake, said Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Phoenix office, who brings about five cases a year before Bolton.

“You never worry that there is going to be any bias. You won’t hear that about every judge,” O’Neill said.

Her predecessor, Robert Broomfield, was nominated to the seat by Ronald Reagan in May 1985. then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist appointed Broomfield to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in May 2002.

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5 Responses for “The Judge Behind the Decision Striking Down Parts of Arizona’s Anti-Immigration Law”

  1. Theresa Mcgrath says:

    My name now is Theresa Romines 2613 Paddlewheel Dr Nashville TN. In 1998 I was in Maricopa co jail pregnant with twins. I was threatened that they would be taken from me and seperated. I had to make the hard decision to open addopt them because I had no one to take them. I was forced to give birth chained to a bed which was horrible. Joe Arpaio ruined my life and I have had nightmares for years. I wanted my babies and a lawyer told me the state of Az could take them and I wanted them to stay together. They are with a great family I thought but they are Trump lovers and for Joe Arpaio to get away with what he put the women through is wrong. I am on disability for bi polar disorder and PTSD. The boys are grown but the father was never even looked for. It was horrible to be there alone chained to a bed and forced to give up your babies. Theresa Romines

  2. David Jonathan says:

    This judge, Dishonorable Susan Bolton, just sentenced herself to hell for eternity. Enjoy, Susan.

  3. jack says:

    you left out many important details, but for starters- why were you in jail in the first place?

  4. Steve T says:

    Federal Judges can be impeached for misconduct. Bolton has repeatedly violated the US Constitution with her rulings making it very possible that she can be brought up for impeachment hearings.

  5. Jim Ridh says:

    I have met and voted for Joe Arpio while living in Arizona. Joe is a Constitutional conservative who upholds the law on the books and delt fairly with the people of Arizona. If you broke the law, or if you were an illegal then you had something to worry about. The bottom line is if you do not like punishments, don’ t break the laws of the land. And do not live in Arizona… at least then, a couple of years ago. Now it appears to be a sanctuary state. You now have a sheriff who will not arrest illegals and judges who will not support the Constitution,, more is the pity.

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