ACLU files for injunction against SB4

From the inbox:

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Texas filed the first motion today to block the anti-immigrant and anti-law enforcement Texas Senate Bill (SB4) before it takes effect. This is the next step in the organization’s effort to strike down SB4.

The law, recently signed by Gov. Greg Abbott, strips localities and local law enforcement in the state of the authority to determine how to best use their limited resources to ensure the safety of their communities. The law also turns Texas into a “show me your papers” state. Law enforcement leaders throughout Texas and the country strongly oppose the law.

The motion, filed on behalf of the plaintiffs Texas LULAC and its members, the City of El Cenizo, the City’s Mayor Raul Reyes and Maverick County and elected officials of the County, asks the federal district court in San Antonio to fast track a ruling on the constitutionality of SB4. In this motion, the ACLU demonstrates that SB4 violates numerous fundamental constitutional rights and principles.

“Governor Abbott and his allies in the legislature enacted the harshest anti-immigration law in the country, ignoring the concerned voices of many Texans who stood in solidarity with our immigrant communities,” said Edgar Saldivar, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas. “Not only will SB4 lead to wholesale racial profiling, it is so vaguely written that local officials and law enforcement agencies are essentially left to guess whether their policies and practices would violate the law. We’re proud to lead the charge on this important next step in the legal battle to keep this calamitous legislation from taking effect on September 1.”

“SB4 is patently unconstitutional. Under SB4, local authorities will be unable to serve their constituents,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “Local officials won’t be able to keep Texans safe and will be forced to carry out harsh discriminatory policies that hurt their communities.”

The ACLU’s co-counsel are Luis Roberto Vera, Jr., LULAC’s National General Counsel, and Renea Hicks of the Law Office of Max Renea Hicks.

Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, submitted a declaration in support of the ACLU’s motion filed today. Gupta is a former head of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice.

SB4 Application for Preliminary Injunction:

See here and here for the background. This occurred after the AG’s office filed a motion in the Austin court to consolidate the other anti-SB4 lawsuits with the lawsuit he filed to declare the law constitutional. Among other things, the courts are going to have to decide which of them will be the court in which all the action takes place. For now, there’s a lot of parallel activity going on. I can see this escalating quickly.

In the meantime, go read this NBC Latino story for the backdrop against which all this takes place.

Supporters of SB4 balk at suggestions the immigration enforcement law may foster racism or encourage discrimination, but as they try to enact it on Sept. 1, it will be impossible to ignore the state’s history of racism and the current challenges for Texans of Mexican descent.

Consider that, during the period from 1848 to 1928, at least 232 people of Mexican descent were killed by mob violence or lynchings in Texas — some committed at the hands of Texas Rangers, according to research by William D. Carrigan and Clive Webb, authors of “Forgotten Dead: Mob Violence Against Mexicans in the United States.” Texas led 12 states in killings of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, the authors solidly documented.

In addition, the effort to place Texas under the anti-discrimination provisions of the Voting Rights Act was the genesis of the 1975 expansion of the act to extend its protections of voting rights of Latinos and other people who were then called “language minorities.”

More recently, Texas’ voter ID law, enacted in 2013, has been struck down in a series of court decisions that found it discriminatory.

Also, Texas’ education board only added Mexican-American studies as an elective course to its public school curriculum in 2014.

“For Texas it really has been a slow march to effective citizenship for Mexican-Americans,” said John Morán González, director of the Center for Mexican American Studies at University of Texas at Austin.

Read the whole thing. You can argue with its premise or with the assertion that SB4 is racist, but you still have to grapple with the history. The DMN has more.

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4 Responses to ACLU files for injunction against SB4

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    Sigh. This ought to be summarily rolled up with all the other lawsuits. At this point, it’s just grandstanding. The law will be litigated. The ACLU just wasted not only the taxpayers money, but their own money, and accomplished nothing.

  2. neither here nor there says:

    ACLU v Trump, haters ban is 2 to 0. Part of the SB4 will be held unconstitutional, but why care about the money? Abbott batted almost zero against Obama and I don’t recall your concern about money.

  3. Bill Daniels says:


    I’ll tell you a little story about the ACLU. Some years back, our little burg sent its dog catchers out into the community, going door to door on private property, knocking on doors (great way to find dogs, btw), peeking in windows, and peering over fences in people’s back yards, looking for evidence of unlicensed (read: untaxed) pets. This was done under the guise of an “educational program” just letting residents know that the city has a license law for pets. In reality, though, people found with or suspected of harboring unlicensed pets received demand letters for license fees. Ask me how I know.

    This was clearly (well, clear to me, anyway), a violation of residents’ 4th Amendment rights.

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Imagine police going house to house looking for evidence of drug use, under the guise of an “educational program,” then arresting people they found because they smelled pot when the residents opened the doors, or because they saw paraphernalia through a window (not visible from the sidewalk or street). Would that be unreasonable? Did the city have a warrant and probable cause to trespass on the property of every single resident in my subdivision? To peek into windows and look in back yards? I called the city about this infringement on residents’ rights, to complain, to no avail, so I wrote the ACLU for help. Never heard from them. Not even a phone call, a fax, or a form letter saying we can’t or won’t help.

    OK, so maybe they (ACLU) have limited resources and can’t respond to every potential case, even for the price of a stamp. If that’s the case, then dog piling on a case that is most definitely ALREADY going to court seems like a poor use of limited resources on the part of the ACLU, wouldn’t you agree?

    My problem is not that they filed suit, my problem is that they intentionally waited until Texas requested that the previous suits be commingled, THEN filed their suit, necessitating that Texas go through more legal machinations, at taxpayer expense. For what? Again, the case is already going to be litigated, and if they wanted to be a part of it, they could have jumped in earlier.

    Oh, and the link you posted? It looks like Texas won or favorably settled a much bigger percentage of cases against Uncle Sam than you make out.

  4. neither here nor there says:

    They lost 9 and won 5, others pending, I knew that, but facts don’t matter anymore, right?

    Not sure what the moral of the story is. As to why wait who knows could be for legal reasons or it could be they had not been invited, what does it matter. The fact remains that Abbott said he wakes up sues Obama and then goes back home, the waste starts there.

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