2000-2011

Unreasonable Seizure and Equal Protection (Mora):

 In August 2009, the ACLU of Arizona filed the first case that challenged the practices of Sheriff Arpaio in conducting workplace raids. These raids have not resulted in any convictions of employers, and are directed at the workers solely because of their status and employment, and not based on allegations of crimes against others. Nineteen-year-old Julio and his 66-year-old father Julian were not violating any laws when forcibly stopped while driving in a public roadway on the way to Julian's workplace (H.M.I). Julio is a citizen and Julian a 30-year-old legal resident of Arizona. Their stop led to a harrowing three hour armed detention, without the ability to contact anyone and humiliating denials of adequate bathroom access while handcuffed. After enduring these harms and illegalities, a brief questioning demonstrated that there was no reason to have detained them. After completing discovery, cross motions for partial Summary Judgment were filed by the parties. In May 2011, the Court ruled for the Moras on key aspects of their submission. This important decision found that even at this stage of the proceeding, and without the need for a trial, these Plaintiffs had demonstrated that their Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizures was violated by the unjustified forceful stop of their car and also by their involuntary removal and cuffing and being arrested without cause by being taken onto the H.M. I. property. The ruling for Plaintiffs resulted in serious negotiations by Defendants and an agreed payment of $200,000 to compensate the Plaintiffs and for some costs and attorneys fees. This was an important win for the Moras and their quality of life, and as a precedent that exposed the abusive and illegal policies adopted by Sheriff Arpaio in conducting workplace raids.

Preemption, Due Process and Employer Sanctions (Valle Del Sol):  

After a Phoenix federal court issued a decision that would allow Arizona officials to begin enforcement of the "Legal Arizona Workers Act" on March 1, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arizona, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) moved forward with an appeal to suspend the Act.  The Arizona law requires employers to check the eligibility of all potential workers against E-Verify, which is presently a voluntary, experimental and temporary federal database program with a high error rate.  The ACLU is asserting that the new law conflicts with this and is preempted by federal law and violates the constitutional right to due process by failing to provide any meaningful opportunity to challenge its enforcement.  The case was argued before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on June 12, 2008, and in September, the Circuit Court upheld the trial court. Plaintiffs were granted review by the U.S. Supreme Court. In its decision on May 26, 2011, the Supreme Court affirmed this result. The Court found that while issues concerning the employment of immigrants are generally left for federal regulation and enforcement, a specific exception in the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) for licensing schemes was determined to be broad enough to cover the Arizona decision to use the loss of business licenses as a sanction against employers if found to hire undocumented persons. With this result based on specific federal statutory language, it should not impact a future Supreme Court determination on SB 1070. Read the Complaint. 

 Unreasonable Seizure (Arizona v. Johnson):

In November 2009, the ACLU of Arizona filed an amicus brief in a criminal appeal on behalf of Mr. Johnson, who was a passenger in a car stopped on the highway.  Mr. Johnson was questioned about matters unrelated to the stop and without any individual suspicion of criminal activity.  The U.S. Supreme Court has found that the 4th Amendment does not prohibit such questioning and the information derived is not “unreasonably seized;” this practice of stopping cars for the purpose of questioning passengers is the M.O. of Sheriff Arpaio during his immigration sweeps.  Our brief sought review by the Arizona Supreme Court on the grounds that the privacy provisions in the Arizona Constitution provide greater protections than the 4th Amendment. In a close 3-2 vote on February 4th the Supreme Court declined the case (Justices Berch and Bales favored review).

Prison Legal News v. Corrections Corporation of America (First Amendment: Publications) 

In September 2009, the ACLU of Arizona filed a federal lawsuit challenging the denial by private prison company "CCA" of receipt of books and publications from Prison Legal News; CCA runs the large "Saguaro" facility in Eloy with contract prisoners from Hawaii and Washington. Prison Legal News is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting human rights in prisons and jails, and has over 7,000 subscribers, mostly prisoners. Sandy Rosen of Rosen, Galvan & Bien was the lead attorney. After a day long session with the Magistrate, attorneys for the parties including Dan Pochoda, and Paul Wright from PLN, a settlement was reached. CCA agreed to remove PLN from the "not approved" list for books and publications and that PLN would be notified if any specific material was censored with the reasons and chance to respond. Read the Complaint and Settlement Agreement.

Religious Discrimination

In August 2009, the ACLU of Arizona filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a Muslim woman awaiting trial while confined in Maricopa County. The complaint sets out the actions by Arpaio and Maricopa County that unreasonably interfere with the woman's religious beliefs and that can be accommodated in the jail setting. The denials include not providing the religious Halal diet, not permitting the Hijab head scarf, and inadequate access to religious books. After we filed for a restraining order, defendants agreed to accommodate the woman's need to fast in the daylight hours during Ramadan and certain other days. After transfer to an ADOC facility thereby mooting the request for injunctive relief, the damages aspect of the case was settled by negotiation.

Religious Discrimination
In June 2009, the ACLU of Arizona filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a 19-year-old Muslim woman against the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. She was booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail on charges that were later dropped and kept at the jail overnight, and throughout was required to remove her Hijab (head scarf) with no alternate covering provided. Her religious beliefs require a head covering while in public and in the presence of men; she had been wearing it since she was three. The Hijab does not impact identification and was worn for her driver's license and is allowed by many correctional systems. MCSO denied the factual characterizations of Mabrouk's complaint. However, the Sheriff's Office disclosed a new policy regarding head coverings during the course of the litigation, which ultimately settled out of court. The terms of the settlement are confidential. Read the Complaint and Press Release.

Arizona v. Gant (Fourth Amendment and Car Searches)
In July 2008, the ACLU of Arizona and the National Office joined on an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court in arguing that in a previous case the Court had effectively eliminated the warrant requirement for searches of a car. In U.S. v. Belton, the Court allowed a search of the inside of a vehicle without a warrant despite the fact that the driver had been removed and was in the custody of the police and there was no indication of any danger to the police nor other emergency circumstance. In an important result, the Supreme Court in April 2009 decided to limit the searches of vehicles incident to an arrest. This is an important departure from a long line of cases that have expanded this ability by law enforcement. Read the Supreme Court Opinion.

Curbelo v. Aguilar 
In May 2008, the ACLU of Arizona joined the ACLU of New Mexico as co-counsel in a federal lawsuit in Tucson against officials of the Border Patrol. The two plaintiffs were Border Patrol agents who were taken off enforcement duty and assigned to latrine duty and similar tasks shortly after they spoke out against the Border Patrol's unlawful practice of "shotgunning" vehicles by stopping them without probable cause or individual suspicion. In December 2008, the Border Patrol agreed to reinstate the agents and negotiations began to resolve the litigation. After lengthy discussions, the two plaintiffs were reinstated and the case was voluntarily dismissed. Read the Complaint.

Lopez v. Town of Cave Creek 
On March 31, 2008, the ACLU of Arizona filed a federal court challenge to a Cave Creek anti-solicitation ordinance that prohibits communicating availability for work from public sidewalks to drivers, parked or traveling. The history of this ordinance demonstrates that it was specifically targeted at eliminating day laborers from the town and was based on a demonstrable anti-immigrant sentiment. At the town council meeting, Representative Russell Pearce (Mesa), Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Minutemen from San Diego amongst others spoke in favor. Similar ordinances have been found to be content based violations of First Amendment rights. Other localities in Arizona were contemplating passage of similar bills. On June 2, 2008, federal judge Roslyn Silver granted Preliminary Injunction and enjoined enforcement of the Cave Creek anti-solicitation ordinance after finding that it is a content-based ban on protected expression. She noted that the concerns of the town were not legitimate and that Cave Creek was seeking to be made safe "from" any immigrant presence, citing the words of Rep. Russell Pearce before the Town Council as evidence. The result is an important victory for the rights of speech of all persons, and will deter other localities from adopting this tactic. In August 2008 upon stipulation, a permanent injunction was entered and the ordinance was repealed by Cave Creek. Read the Complaint.

Rubio v. Brewer (Voting Rights Act) 

In February 2008, the ACLU of Arizona and the ACLU Voting Rights Project filed a lawsuit seeking to restore the voting rights of former felons in Arizona. At issue is the state's rights restoration process for former felons. Under current state law, everyone who commits a felony is stripped of their civil rights. They can't restore those civil rights – even after being released from prison – unless they've paid all of their financial obligations to the state and their victims, including docket and filing fees, court costs, restitution, and costs of incarceration, as well as interest on these debts. The ACLU argued in its complaint that denying the right to vote based on one's failure or inability to pay is the modern equivalent of a poll tax and violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The lawsuit asked that the right to vote not be limited by a person's financial ability, but does not seek to eliminate a defendant's obligation to pay. In March 2008, the District Court dismissed the complaint and we submitted a brief to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that this was erroneous. Plaintiffs' amended complaint was dismissed by the district court on November 6, 2008. On May 27, 2010 the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court decision.  Read the Amended Complaint.

Frazier v Boomsma 

On June 28, 2007, the ACLU of Arizona filed a law suit on behalf of Dan Frazier. Mr. Frazier is the operator of a website in Flagstaff that sells items with political messages including T-shirts that prominently state "BUSH LIED - THEY DIED" with the names of soldiers killed in Iraq in small print in the background. With Frazier clearly as the target the 2007 Arizona legislature unanimously passed SB 1014. This bill made it a crime for a person to use the names of deceased soldiers, without family permission, and allowed family members of deceased soldiers a private right of action against the seller. A federal court judge issued a preliminary injunction on September 27, 2007, halting the enforcement of this statute. In a strongly worded opinion, the judge accepted the ACLU position that the anti-war message, including the names of soldiers killed in Iraq, was clearly "political speech" on a matter of great public concern. In August 2008 Judge Neil Wake granted Frazier's motion for permanent relief and awarded attorney fees to Plaintiff's counsel in a successful end to the litigation. Red the Complaint and Final Judgment.

Daniels v. Maricopa County 
 On May 30, 2007, the ACLU of Arizona filed a lawsuit on behalf of Robert Daniels, a quarantined tuberculosis patient who had been held in the jail ward at the Maricopa Medical Center for nine months, charging that treating a severely ill patient under quarantine like a criminal is inhumane and unconstitutional. The ACLU argued that the county failed to implement procedures on how to humanely quarantine sick patients for lengthy periods of time, and in an effort to cut costs, deliberately failed to explore alternative locations in which to quarantine Daniels. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio publicly stated that, in the interest of security, he would treat any person housed in the jail ward in the same manner as all other jail inmates. The ACLU did not challenge the County's decision to quarantine Daniels. On July 19, 2007, Robert Daniels was transferred to the National Jewish Hospital in Denver, the leading US center for TB treatment. At National Jewish, he was treated humanely; as a result, he was no longer contagious and is no longer quarantined. Daniels returned to Russia to be with his family. Read the Complaint.

Berger v. Arizona 
In March 2005, the ACLU of Arizona submitted an amicus brief on behalf of Morton Berger who was sentenced to 200 years for possessing 20 images of child pornography. The Supreme Court of Arizona refused to consider Berger's 200-year sentence as a whole and, instead, applied his Eighth Amendment to only one ten-year sentence for possessing one child pornography image. This interpretation precludes courts from considering an entire sentence when determining if the punishment violates the Eighth Amendment. ACLU-AZ argued that this sentence does violate the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, suggesting the standard was established in Solem v. Helm, 463 U.S. 277 (1983), Harmelin v. Michigan, 501 U.S. 957 (1991), cert denied.
 
Haggerty v. City of Tucson (Red Tag) 
In September 2004, the ACLU of Arizona filed a lawsuit on behalf of Michael and Miriam Haggerty challenging the "red-tagging" ordinance of the City of Tucson. The Haggerty's tenant was subjected to the "red-tagging" ordinance after having a small graduation party for her daughter. The ordinance is part of the Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance, which requires a large, unattractive, orange notice to be plastered on the front window of the property if there is an unruly gathering, defined as a gathering of five or more persons, which causes a disturbance of peace. The red-tag must remain on the window for 180 days and stays with the property, even if the tenant who caused the property to be red-tagged moves. If the property is red-tagged within this time period, the tenant and the landlord are subject to monetary fines. Due to procedural issues, the case was lost in February 2006.
 
Ron Dible v. City of Chandler 
ACLU of Arizona filed an amicus brief with the U.S. District Court on behalf of Ron Dible in support of his motion for partial summary judgment, which requested the Court rule in his favor on his First Amendment claim. ACLU-AZ argued that the Chandler Police Department violated his First Amendment right by terminating his employment after subsequently learning of his involvement in a sexually explicit website with his wife. His participation was solely limited to off-work hours, and he did not use the Chandler Police Department's name in anyway. The District court found that Dible's involvement in the website was not protected by the First Amendment.
 
Stannard v. City of Phoenix 

In June 2004, the ACLU of Arizona filed a lawsuit in federal court that challenged Arizona's sex offender classification scheme. The system classifies sex offenders into Level I, II, or III depending on law enforcement's evaluation of nineteen subjective criteria which allegedly are factors indicative of the offender's likelihood to re-offend. Unlike many other states, Arizona does not allow the sex offender any opportunity to participate in this process, discover the information underlying the classification, or challenge/appeal the classification. As demonstrated by our client's case, the classification level can even be changed (and raised) years after the conviction, even if there are no new facts, charges or investigations affecting risk. To make this system worse, a new law went into effect under which all Level II offenders are subject to the Level III notification. Thus, Level II and Level III offenders are subjected to mandatory notification to their surrounding neighborhood, schools, and employers. The flyer, which includes their exact address, must also be given to the media to be published. The case did not result in plaintiff's favor. Read the Complaint.

Standhart v. Superior Court of Arizona 

In August 2003, the ACLU of Arizona filed an amicus brief in support of Harold Standhart that challenged the constitutionality of the Arizona Defense of Marriage Act. ACLU-AZ argued that the U.S. Supreme Court findings in Lawrence v. Texas also entitle the right to same-sex marriage recognition from the state. Arizona Senator Mark Anderson filed to intervene in the case in July 2003, arguing against same-sex marriage. The motion to intervene was denied, and Senator Anderson was granted leave to file amicus curiae in the case. On October 8, 2003, the Arizona Court of Appeals denied our claim by stating that the fundamental right to marry "does not encompass the right to marry a same-sex partner." Read the Final Opinion.

Micnhimer v. Micnhimer 
In 2003, the Maricopa County Superior Court entered a Divorce Decree in a custody case that conditioned visits of the children with the father on his "not having an internet access account or any access to the internet in his home." There was no finding of child abuse of any type and the father is not a sex offender. On February 12, 2008, the ACLU of Arizona filed an amicus brief which focused on the First Amendment implications of the Decree. We argued that the Decree constitutes a broad prior restraint on the receipt of protected speech, and that it was unnecessarily broad given the limited governmental interest. The brief noted that modern technology permits blocking objectionable internet sites for the times that the children are visiting. In May 2008, the trial judge agreed with our submission and amended the Decree to allow full access to the internet by the father and his partner, with some safeguards when the children visit.
 
CCADP vs Terry Stewart

A challenge to the Department of Corrections' implementation of a law effectively prohibiting inmates from a presence on the internet or from receiving information from the internet. The Federal Court issued a preliminary injunction against the Department of Corrections.

Santiago
A young Hispanic man was stopped on his bicycle without probable cause and was arrested for allegedly failing to signal while riding. He felt that the incident was one of racial profiling and ACLU-AZ agreed. We filed a law suit but submitted the matter to mediation where we achieved a result favorable to our client.
 
ACLU v. Napolitano
A successful challenge to Arizona's Computer Crimes bill which, under the rubric of "harmful to minors", censored material which could be transmitted over the internet to adults as well as to children and which made it criminal to publish material protected by the First Amendment 

1990-2000

AzCLU vs. Governor Hull and the State of Arizona (1999)
At the behest of a national religious organization whose sole agenda item is the promotion of Christianity, Mayor Dunham and Governor Hull each proclaimed Bible Week and urged the citizens of Gilbert and Arizona, respectively, to read the Bible, characterized the Bible as the founding fundamental document of the United States and urged people to seek spiritual guidance therefrom. Governor Hull quickly withdrew the proclamation and diid not repeat it.
 
AzCLU vs. Mayor Dunham and the City of Gilbert (1998)
Mayor Dunham was represented pro bono by Pat Robertson's law firm and they defended the matter vigorously. Ultimately the case was settled but first we established an important principle of law; even a ceremonial act which violates the Establishment Clause may sustain a Constitutional challenge and citizens have standing to sue.
 

1980-1990

Ashton Jones v. Board of Regents (1988)
The ACLU-AZ defended the distribution of underground newspapers on Arizona campuses by obtaining a temporary injunction when U of A tried to prohibit the sale of Druid Free Press on campus. A federal district court ultimately agreed with the ACLU-AZ and ruled against the university.
 
Black v. Ricketts (1984)
Brought relief to inmates based on constitutional claims of cruel and unusual punishment of prisoners in the facilities maintained and operated by the Arizona Department of Corrections which had implemented a "behavioral modification" program. 

1970-1980

Bates & O'Steen vs State Bar (1977)
The State Bar censured the law firm of Bates & O'Steen for advertising in a local paper. After the Arizona courts agreed with the State Bar, the ACLU-AZ appealed the case to the US Supreme Court which ruled that attorneys have the right to advertise. 

Cardwell (1973)

A lawsuit against the Department of Corrections on behalf of inmates because of overcrowded conditions, inadequate medical facilities and lack of medical staff, lack of access to the law libraries and the courts.

Sara Baird v. State Bar of Arizona (1971)
Sara Baird was refused admission to the State Bar because she refused to sign a loyalty oath. The Bar said that the signing was necessary to determine whether or not bar applicants had the proper "belief" and "view." The Arizona Supreme Court agreed with the Bar, but the ACLU-AZ took the case to the US Supreme Court where the loyalty oath was struck down on First Amendment grounds.
 
 Peckham v. Marana High School (1970)

In the early 70's, a student had been barred from school because of length of hair. The ACLU-AZ argued that students should not be barred from school unless it could be shown that their dress disrupted the educational process. The Arizona Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling and required that the high school re-admit the student, saying that the school's attempt to keep him from class was "arbitrary and unreasonable".

1960-1970

In re Gault (1967)
In 1967, the US Supreme Court ruled that juvenile courts must grant minors many of the procedural protections required in adult trials by the Bill of Rights: timely notice of the charges against them, right to counsel when the juvenile might be placed in custody, right to cross-examine witnesses and warning against self-incrimination and the right to remain silent. The case was taken to the Supreme Court by the ACLU-AZ on behalf of a 15-year-old who had been committed as a delinquent for making a "lewd phone call." No notice was given to the parent who came home to find that her son had been arrested. She was told that there would be a hearing the next day; no one was told of the charges. The Court had committed the boy to a state industrial school for five years by the court.
 
Miranda v. Arizona (1966)

In one of the most famous cases in American jurisprudence, the ACLU-AZ argued before the US Supreme Court that defendants who have been arrested for felonies have a right to remain silent and to have counsel before they are interrogated. The Court agreed with the ACLU position and reversed the Miranda decision which had been affirmed by the Arizona Supreme Court. John P. Frank was our cooperating attorney.

Elfbrandt v. Russell (1964)

In 1961 two teachers refused to sign a loyalty oath required of state employees by Arizona law. The Arizona Supreme Court upheld the law and after being bounced back to the state courts once from the Supreme Court, the ACLU-AZ took it once again to the US Supreme Court which by a 5 to 4 decision struck down the Arizona oath as unconstitutionally vague. The oath that is administered has changed wording.

Planned Parenthood v. Maricopa County (1962)
A challenge to a 1901 Arizona law which prohibited the advertising or publication of birth control information. ACLU-AZ became involved when some county employees were prohibited from referring patients to Planned Parenthood. Arizona Supreme Court narrowed the scope of the statute, ruling that birth control materials cannot be recommended by brand names, but no restrictions were placed on information concerning their use and availability. 

Oyama v. Grace Gibson O'Neil (1960)
The ACLU-AZ challenged the Arizona miscegenation law which dated back to 1887 and prohibited marriage between any person of Caucasian extraction and anyone of Black, Hindu, Malayan, or Oriental ethnicity. The ACLU-AZ filed a writ of mandamus to test the law on behalf of Henry Oyama, a native Tuscon resident of Japanese descent who, along with his Caucasian fiancée Mary Ann Jordan, was refused a marriage license by the Pima County Clerk. The county superior court agreed with the ACLU position that a law which prohibited interracial marriage was a violation of the 14th Amendment (Equal Protection).

Stay informed

ACLU of Arizona is part of a network of affiliates

Learn more about ACLU National