POLITICS

Supreme Court refuses to restore Arizona no-bail law

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 11:  Immigrant inmates line up for breakfast at the Maricopa County Tent City jail on March 11, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona. The striped uniforms and pink undergarments are standard issue at the facility. The tent jail, run by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, houses undocumented immigrants who are serving up to one year after being convicted of crime in the county. Although many of immigrants have lived in the U.S for years, often with families, most will be deported to Mexico after serving their sentences.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 11: Immigrant inmates line up for breakfast at the Maricopa County Tent City jail on March 11, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona. The striped uniforms and pink undergarments are standard issue at the facility. The tent jail, run by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, houses undocumented immigrants who are serving up to one year after being convicted of crime in the county. Although many of immigrants have lived in the U.S for years, often with families, most will be deported to Mexico after serving their sentences. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)  (2013 Getty Images)

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to block a lower-court ruling that struck down an Arizona law that denies bail to undocumented immigrants.

The decision Thursday by the nation's highest court clears the way for a wave of bail hearings for immigrants across Arizona.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals three weeks ago overturned the state's voter-approved law, which denies bail to immigrants in the country illegally who are charged with a range of felonies that include shoplifting, aggravated identity theft, sexual assault and murder.

The 11-member panel ruled that the law violates due process by imposing punishment before trial.

The law was passed in a referendum with 78 percent of the vote in 2006 amid a series of immigration crackdowns in the state. Other measures made English the state’s official language, barred undocumented immigrants from receiving punitive damages in lawsuits and prohibited them from receiving certain government services and benefits.

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A three-member panel of the appeals court had previously upheld the no-bail law, finding it didn’t run afoul of the Constitution. But the law’s challengers succeeded in getting the 11-member panel to consider the case.

Arizona is one of at least four states with laws taking on the issue of bail for undocumented immigrants. Missouri and Alabama have similar laws, while Virginia has a less stringent statute that allows immigrants to argue their case for bail before a judge.

The law's defenders say the Supreme Court’s recent ruling calls into question bans on bail in 40 states.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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