Arizona Day Labor Solicitation Laws Ruled Illegal

Arizona laws prohibiting drivers from soliciting day laborers on the side of the road violate free speech rights under the U.S. Constitution, a federal appeals court said, upholding a lower court order and handing a defeat to Republican Governor Jan Brewer.

The provisions, part of Arizona legislation aimed at restricting illegal immigration, penalize the commercial speech of day laborers and those who hire them, the San Francisco-based court held today. While the state has an interest in traffic safety, the law doesn’t target people who create traffic hazards and its stated purpose is to encourage undocumented workers to leave the state by stripping them of their livelihood, the three-judge panel said.

“Laws like this one that restrict more protected speech than is necessary violate the First Amendment,” the court said. The rules limit the ability of laborers and employers to negotiate and consummate a legal transaction--to hire or be hired for day labor, the court ruled.

The 2010 rules make it a crime for day laborers to get in a car if it’s blocking traffic or for drivers to solicit day laborers if they’re impeding traffic. A federal judge blocked the rules in February 2012 after immigration rights and labor groups sued.

Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court in June struck down much of the 2010 laws on the grounds that states must defer to the federal government on immigration policy. The court did allow Arizona requirements on police checks of immigration status to take effect, while leaving open the possibility of new legal challenges.

Amy Rezzonico, a spokeswoman for Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, didn’t immediately return an e-mail message seeking comment on the ruling.

The case is Valle Del Sol Inc. v. Whiting, 12-15688, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco).

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