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Supreme Court Blocks Arizona Bail Law

Supreme Court bail lawThe U.S. Supreme Court decided in November that it would not overturn the 9th Circuit Court’s ruling that blocked a controversial Arizona law approved by voters.

The law, which was passed by 78 percent of Arizona voters in 2006 as Proposition 100, required a judge to order a person charged with a crime held without bail if there was probable cause to believe that the person was in the United States illegally. The person would have to be held without bail even if the judge and the prosecutor did not believe that the subject was a flight risk. The law applied to undocumented immigrants who were charged with Class 4 felonies (which includes aggravated DUI, possession of narcotics, forgery, identity theft, and other crimes) or more serious charges.

The American Civil Liberties Union opposed the law in court, arguing that the Constitution is designed to protect the rights of anyone who comes into contact with the U.S. justice system, including undocumented immigrants. They argued that everyone should be presumed innocent until proven guilty and should be provided with certain protections, including the opportunity to have bail granted by a judge if the defendant is not considered a flight risk.

The judges on the 9th Circuit Court determined that the law was intended to punish undocumented immigrants, even if they did not pose a risk. The Court struck down the law and granted a stay while the case was appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court dissolved the stay, which means the law can no longer be enforced.

The Supreme Court’s decision does not mean that undocumented immigrants who are currently being held without bail will automatically be let out of jail. It simply means that they will be granted a hearing where a judge will decide if they should be granted bail.

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