Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today announced that it has received documents from the Department of Justice (DOJ) that show DOJ worked hand-in-hand with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in mounting their respective legal challenges to SB 1070, Arizona’s get-tough illegal immigration law. The documents, obtained by Judicial Watch pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed on June 17, 2010, include email exchanges between DOJ officials and ACLU staff.
Included among the documents obtained by Judicial Watch is a July 27, 2010, email exchange between Lucas Guttentag, leader of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project and the DOJ’s Edwin Kneedler, Deputy Solicitor General:
2:15 pm: Ed
I left a voicemail earlier today about checking in once the district court rules. Would you be available then?
[Redacted statement] And from all of us, thank you again for your argument on behalf of the United States.
2:40 pm: Thanks Lucas. We should definitely check in once we hear. We’ll be huddling here as soon as we can. What is your thinking at this point on if/how you will proceed in various possible scenarios?
It was good to see you, even if only briefly, and to be on the same side for once! [Redacted statement] I have a feeling we might be seeing each other again on this case.
6:14 pm: Thanks Ed. Yes, a real pleasure to be on the same side.
I think we will be strongly inclined to seek an immediate emergency injunction from the 9th Circuit…
Can you share your current thinking with regard to the various scenarios?
The documents obtained by Judicial Watch also include email exchanges between ACLU staff and Joshua Wilkenfeld, the Assistant U.S. Attorney who signed the government’s pleadings in the lawsuit, exchanged hearing transcripts and established opportunities to discuss the case. For example, the documents included this July 16, 2010, email from Guttentag to Wilkenfeld:
…Yes, look forward to talking. I’m getting a fuller briefing on yesterday’s hearing later this morning (Calif. time) and then I am tied up for a short while. Would it work for you to talk at about 4.00 or 4.30p Eastern? If it’s okay with you, I’d like to include two colleagues. By the way, we tried to order a transcript yesterday but understand the US Attorney’s office already did. Can we get a copy directly from you when it’s available?
Wilkenfeld sent the transcript later that day.
On May 17, 2010, a coalition of “civil rights groups,” including the ACLU, filed a class action lawsuit against Arizona over SB 1070. According to the ACLU’s press release announcing the lawsuit, this coalition included: “…the ACLU, MALDEF, National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), ACLU of Arizona, National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) — a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice.”
On July 6, 2010, the Obama DOJ filed a lawsuit of its own, which has been described by Congressman Peter King (R-NY) as a “cut and paste” version of the ACLU lawsuit.
“It is one thing to share the ACLU’s disrespect for the rule of law but it is quite another to collude with the organization on a prosecutorial strategy against the State of Arizona. Frankly, these new documents show it is hard to tell where the ACLU ends and the Justice Department begins,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The Obama Justice Department is supposed to be an independent, nonpartisan law enforcement agency. Many Americans will be disturbed, though maybe not surprised, to find that Eric Holder’s Justice Department is colluding with one of the most leftist organizations in the nation. We know whose ‘side’ this Justice Department is on when it comes to the enforcement of our immigration laws.”
(Judicial Watch represents Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, author of SB 1070, in the Obama administration’s lawsuit challenging the Arizona law