The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund is asking the highest court in the land to review part of the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that upheld Fremont’s illegal immigrant ordinance.
Alonzo Rivas, a MALDEF attorney, said MALDEF filed a petition for “writ of certiorari,” a document asking the Supreme Court to review the decision of a lower court, on Wednesday afternoon – the deadline for filing the petition.
A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals heard challenges from MALDEF and attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union in December 2012, and on June 28, 2013, reversed a U.S. District Court ruling that certain rental provisions of Ordinance 5165 were preempted by the Immigration and Nationality Act and violated the Fair Housing Act.
Plaintiffs asked that the entire Appeals Court rehear the case, but that request was denied.
The court issued its mandate on Oct. 24, initially giving the plaintiffs 90 days to petition the Supreme Court, and later extending the deadline until Wednesday.
Fremont voters, meanwhile, were asked at a Feb. 11 special election whether to amend the ordinance by repealing the housing sections, but voters – with nearly 60 percent backing – rejected the amendment.
“We only decided to challenge the ruling on preemption, in which essentially the 8th Circuit found that Ordinance 5165 was not in conflict with federal immigration laws,” Rivas told the Tribune.
“We think that that ruling is in conflict with Supreme Court precedent on Arizona vs. United States, which came down in June of 2012,” Rivas explained. “If we only had that, it would have been a different story for us, but then we had five other circuits that read Arizona consistently with our reading.”
Legal counsel for the city of Fremont will have an opportunity to respond to Wednesday’s filing, and ultimately it will be up to the Supreme Court to decide whether they will take up the case.
The high court already is weighing whether to take up cases involving similar ordinances in Farmers Branch, Texas, and Hazleton, Pa., both of which were declared unconstitutional by federal courts in those districts.
“All three ordinances – the ones in Hazleton, Pa., Farmers Branch, Texas, and Fremont – they’re all very similar,” Rivas said.
Attorney Kris Kobach, who wrote Fremont’s ordinance and has been defending it in court, is also representing Farmers Branch and Hazleton.
The Supreme Court typically receives approximately 10,000 petitions every year, but takes only about 75 to 80 of them.
Fremont city staff began the process of implementing the housing portions of Ordinance 5165 in November, but the city council on Nov. 12, upon calling for the Feb. 11 special election, suspended implementation until 30 days after the election results are certified, which is expected to happen at the council’s March 11 meeting.