COLUMBIA — A federal judge says he will likely need to rework his order that put most of South Carolina's tough anti-illegal immigration law on hold, now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned nearly all of the Arizona law on which some of South Carolina's policies were based.
U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel has scheduled a conference Monday in the federal government's lawsuit against South Carolina. He said in court papers filed recently that his order blocking the law's enforcement will likely need to be revised, given the high court's decision.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned most of Arizona's law but left intact a provision allowing law enforcement officers to ask the immigration status of people they stop.
South Carolina had been awaiting the outcome of that lawsuit, given a similar one filed here filed in December by the federal government and the American Civil Liberties Union. The government and the ACLU challenged the constitutionality of South Carolina's law, which had been modeled on Arizona's statute and included a status check provision similar to Arizona's.
Earlier this year, Gergel issued an order halting the South Carolina lawsuit pending the outcome of the Arizona case after federal prosecutors and attorneys representing the state asked him to do so.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, who is representing the state, had originally asked that the entire law be allowed to take effect Jan. 1 while the lawsuit goes forward, but Gergel turned down that request. Instead, he blocked several sections of the law. Among them are the status check requirement and provisions that make it a state crime not to carry immigration paperwork or for illegal immigrants to transport or house themselves.
But some provisions went into effect as scheduled Jan. 1, including a requirement that businesses check new hires' legal status through a federal system.
For now, state prosecutors have told South Carolina authorities to abide by the judge's original order that put the law's enforcement on hold. In late June, Wilson wrote to Public Safety Director Leroy Smith asking that his officers be made aware that, until the injunction in South Carolina is lifted, the status check provision cannot be implemented regardless of the U.S. Supreme Court decision.