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.
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.