Arizona Dream Coalition v. Brewer

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: 07-07-2014
  • Case #: 13-16248
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Pregerson for the Court; Circuit Judges Berzon and Christen
  • Full Text Opinion

A preliminary injunction is proper in an equal protection claim when the plaintiff can show a likelihood of success on the merits of their equal protection claim, that the plaintiff is likely to suffer irreparable harm unless the policy is enjoined, and that both the balance of equities and the public interest favored an injunction.

The Arizona Dream Coalition ("Dream Coalition"), on behalf of five individuals, filed an equal protection claim against Arizona Governor Jan Brewer ("Brewer") for discrimination in obtaining a driver's license. On June 15, 2012 the federal government enacted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") program. DACA allows for people, 31 years old and younger, who came to the United States as children under the age of 16 to remain in the United States without fear of removal. Under Arizona law, a person can obtain a driver's license if they submit proof that they are authorized to be in the United States by the federal government. On August 15, 2012, the same day DACA became effective, Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona passed an "executive order warn[ing] that, under DACA, the federal government planned to issue employment authorization documents to certain unlawfully present aliens. The order directed state agencies to prevent DACA recipients from becoming eligible for any “state identification, including a driver’s license.” The Ninth Circuit held that the Arizona law "st[ood] as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress." Thus, the Arizona law prohibiting DACA recipients from obtaining a driver's license was preempted. The panel also held that the Arizona law failed rational basis review because there was "no rational relationship between Defendants’ policy and a legitimate state interest." In granting injunction the panel held that the plaintiff's met the factors necessary for award of injunction: that the Dream Coalition was likely to succeed on the merits, that the individuals likely would suffer irreparable harm, and that because the policy violates the US Constitution, the public interest and balance of equities favors injunction. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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