Chipping away at Arizona's SB 1070
A federal judge has temporarily blocked yet another provision of Arizona's controversial SB 1070 immigration measure from being enforced. The 2010 law made it a crime for a person to block traffic when seeking or offering work on streets.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton ruled Wednesday that groups who challenged the provision were likely to succeed in proving the measure violates the 1st Amendment. Immigrant and civil rights groups had argued that the law targeted day laborers' speech, not traffic problems.
Bolton rightly noted that state officials already have a slew of civil penalties on the books that can be used against individuals who violate traffic laws or create road hazards.
The ruling shouldn't come as a surprise. On Feb. 21, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to reinstate Redondo Beach's anti-solicitation ordinance. The high court let stand a lower court ruling that found the city's attempt to stop day laborers from seeking work on street corners was so broad that it was nothing short of an unconstitutional attack on free speech. Redondo Beach had spent more than 20 years defending its anti-solicitation ordinance.
No one disputes that cities or states should be able to prosecute those who endanger public safety or create a nuisance. But communities should avail themselves of laws already in place that target jaywalking, trespassing or traffic violations instead of enacting new ones that result only in long and expensive legal battles.
Photo: Recent court rulings have gone in favor of day laborers. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times