(Indianapolis, Ind.) - Indiana’s controversial law which allowed for police to arrest people whose immigration status was questionable has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge.
On Friday, U.S. District Court for Southern Indiana Judge Sarah Evans Barker issued the ruling, making her earlier injunction against Senate Enrolled Act 590 permanent.
“(SEA 590) authorizes state and local law enforcement officers to effect warrantless arrests for matters that are not crimes, it runs afoul of the Fourth Amendment, and thus, is unconstitutional on those grounds,” Barker said.
The law was signed by Governor Mitch Daniels in 2011. It banned immigrants from using their consular identification cards. Also, police could arrest an immigrant if they suspected that the person was in the country and state illegally. The Indiana law had been modeled after an Arizona immigration law which caused a national controversy in 2011.
Soon after the law was passed, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit against the City of Indianapolis and the prosecutors in Marion and Johnson counties arguing the law violated the due process and illegal search and seizure protections in the Constitution.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller declined to defend the law in 2012 after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Arizona law. The justices insisted it was the federal government’s job to regulate immigration, not the states’.
Three Indiana lawmakers - State Senators Mike Delph, Phil Boots, and Brent Steele – then petitioned the court to defend the law instead. Barker’s ruling determined the senators could not intervene in the case.
“As would-be suitors these three legislators lack the power to substitute themselves for the Office of the Attorney General in order to pursue their own strategic litigation preferences,” Barker wrote in her opinion.
The ACLU of Indiana lauded Friday’s ruling.
“The Constitution is a restraint on the power of government over the lives of individuals,” said Jane Henegar, ACLU of Indiana executive director. “The ACLU of Indiana is proud to stands with all people in our state when they assert those protections of their liberties.”
Some other provisions in the 2011 immigration law were allowed to remain, including penalties against businesses which knowingly hire illegal immigrants.