Tuesday, December 14, 2010


The Supreme Court had arguments on Wednesday, December 8, 2010, on the case of Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, which involves the Employer Sanctions Law of Arizona.  Arizona’s Employer Sanctions Law is among the toughest in the nation. The Law imposes sanctions on employers who hire unauthorized workers who work illegally in the country. It mandates that employers participate in the federal employment verification system called E-Verify, which verifies the work status of a worker.

Lower court decisions have upheld the Arizona’s Employer Sanctions law as constitutional. Based on these lower court decisions, it is anticipated that the Supreme Court will uphold the Employer Sanctions Law. However, opponents of the law, including the Asian American Justice Center and the National Immigration Justice Center, filed amicus briefs on the theory that the application of Arizona’s Employer Sanctions Law has a discriminatory effect and is unconstitutional.

This case is one to watch for the ongoing debate between the states and the federal government over the federal government’s handling of immigration.  The case will certainly act as a guidepost on how far the Supreme Court will allow states to intrude on immigration enforcement, a domain traditionally reserved for the federal government. 

While much has been made on both sides of the debate about what the U.S. Constitution says about immigration, it is interesting to note that the U.S. Constitution is incredibly brief on the subject.  Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, only requires Congress to "establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization."  Given the brevity of words, it is not surprising that we have so much debate on the subject. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010


If you ask the Arizona Court of Appeals, parents may be liable for harm caused when their kid crashes the family car, even when the kid drives without permission.  The reasoning lies in the case of Young v. Beck.  That case is currently on review at the AZ Supreme Court.  Therefore, parents with driving children may want to watch this case carefully. 

The facts giving rise to Young v. Beck are typical of many households with teenagers.   Jason Beck, 17, was joy riding with his friends in a car provided by his parents.  On his way home, Jason crashed into Young who received serious injuries. However, the rub here is that the Becks told Jason that he could no longer have friends in the car because of a previous accident. He was only to drive the car to school, church, or work. Therefore, Jason did not have permission to joy ride as he did on the day of the accident.   

So, why are his parents liable?  Arizona follows what’s called “The Family Purpose Doctrine.”  The Family Purpose Doctrine simply says that a parent who “furnishes an automobile for the pleasure and convenience of the members of his[/her] family makes the use of the machine . . . [the parents'] affair or business, and that any member of the family driving the machine with the [parents’] consent, either express or implied, is the [parents’] agent.” See, Benton v. Regeser.  In other words, if you let your kid drive the family car, you are responsible if the kid crashes the car.

In Young v. Beck, the Becks argued at trial that Jason did not have express permission to use the car for driving his friends. Therefore, the Becks argued they should not be liable under the Family Purpose Doctrine. The Court, however, reasoned that the Becks gave Jason implied consent to drive the car for family purposes because Jason had permission to drive the car for many other purposes.

So, what’s the moral of the story? If you have an accident prone child, take away the car keys and deny him or her the right to drive your car. Therefore, when he or she crashes the car and subjects you to liability, you’ll have an excuse at Court why your disobedient child should be the only person responsible for the damage. But, that’s easier said than done.  Your other choice is to carry a huge insurance policy.