The Skinny


Federal appeals court overturns Gov. Brewer's exec order blocking licenses for undocumented youth

Gov. Jan Brewer lost a round in federal court earlier this week, when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted an injunction blocking the state from enforcing her policy of denying driver's licenses to so-called DREAM Act youngsters.

Brewer announced that the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles wouldn't give licenses to teens and young adults who qualify for the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shelters young undocumented immigrants from deportation as long as they arrived here as children and stay out of trouble.

Brewer was sued by a coalition of groups, including the ACLU, National Immigration Law Center and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, who argued that the policy violated the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause.

The Ninth Circuit justices ruled on Monday, July 7, that there was "no rational relationship between (Brewer's) policy and a legitimate state interest" and ordered the U.S. District Court in Phoenix to grant an injunction that prevents the state from following Brewer's orders to withhold the driver's licenses.

The lawsuit must still go to trial, but the Ninth Circuit noted that attorneys for DACA enrollees had "established a likelihood of success on the merits of their Equal Protection Clause claim."

Brewer vowed to keep fighting in court, saying on her Facebook page that the appeals court "refused to allow me to follow the rule of law."

Among the Republicans who are running for Brewer's job this year, there was general support for Brewer's approach.

Former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith encouraged Brewer to appeal the Ninth Circuit's ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"The Obama Administration's unilateral declaration of its DACA policy and its unwillingness to use existing law to expedite the return of tens of thousands of illegal immigrants from Central America to their homes is creating our immigration crisis," Smith said. "This ruling merely supports the unlawful unilateral actions of this administration, further undermining electoral confidence in Washington's ability to address this crisis in a just, appropriate and serious manner."

State Treasurer Doug Ducey said "the Ninth Circuit has once more trampled over states' responsibilities. I hope this decision is appealed to the Supreme Court."

Secretary of State Ken Bennett said he expects "the ruling will be appealed" and sided with Brewer, although he left the door open for relaxing the rules in the future.

"Legal presence in our country and state is a basic requirement to qualify for any state license," Bennett said. "I would support establishing a fair and efficient process that allows these young people an opportunity to establish a legal presence and gain access to some of the rights and privileges citizens enjoy."

Candidates Christine Jones and Frank Riggs did not get back to the Weekly as of our print deadline.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Fred DuVal sided with the DREAMers and promised that "the very first thing I will do after taking the oath of office will be to rescind Governor Brewer's executive order and end this embarrassment once and for all.

"Governor Brewer's executive order barring DREAMers from receiving driver's licenses is callous," DuVal said. "It hurts families and local businesses, and it makes our streets less safe."


Failed candidate makes an endorsement in governor's race

Having given up his mad dream of winning the governor's race this year, state Sen. Al Melvin (R-SaddleBrooke) last week endorsed state Treasurer Doug Ducey in the six-way Republican primary.

"After traveling our state and sharing the stage with so many of our fine candidates, I am confident that Doug is the very best choice for conservative voters," Melvin said in a press release announcing his endorsement.

Ducey said he was grateful for Melvin's support and he was "proud to call him my friend and am humbled to have his support."

Elsewhere in the Republican gubernatorial primary scramble, Secretary of State Ken Bennett won the endorsement of several law enforcement units, including AZCOPS and the Arizona Fraternal Order of Police.

"I proved when I was Senate president that we would put their safety first and provided them with the resources and the things that they needed to do their job, in a manner so that their families could expect they'd come home every night," Bennett told The Skinny. "Other people are getting political endorsements from other politicians, in and out of the state. I'm getting endorsements from people who put their life on the line for all the rest of us, every day."



Embattled school chief's GOP opponent scores Clean Elections funding

There's no shortage of trouble for State Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal, who recently left a press conference in tears after trying to explain why he posted hundreds of anonymous comments on political blogs that suggested, among other things, that people on welfare as "lazy pigs," Planned Parenthood was worse than the Nazis and TUSD's Mexican-American studies program was lead by people no different than member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Although Huppenthal has repudiated the comments (which is kind of odd, since just a few weeks before his apology, he insisted that he stood behind them), some members of the business community and the Republican establishment have begun to abandon him.

Meanwhile, Huppenthal's Republican challenger, Diane Douglas, received $97,620 of Clean Elections funding last week.

Admittedly, $97K is not a lot of money to run a statewide campaign and Douglas has little name ID. But she opposes the Common Core learning standards, while Huppenthal has been a champion of them. Republican primary voters are highly animated by the Common Core standards, which they see as an Obama-led takeover of the education system by D.C. bureaucrats, so Huppenthal is facing the challenge of keeping the support of the GOP base.

Huppenthal applied for Clean Elections funding last week but has not yet qualified for a check, according to Clean Elections Executive Director Tom Collins.

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