TULSA, Okla. (AP) - The Oklahoma Attorney General's office has asked a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit against Oklahoma's new anti-illegal immigration law.
In legal briefs filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, state attorneys argued that the federal court doesn't have proper jurisdiction over a statute that has allegedly violated the Oklahoma constitution.
The motion also contended that Gov. Brad Henry and Attorney General Drew Edmondson aren't the proper defendants in the case.
“We are arguing it's a premature lawsuit. The state court should sort out the alleged ambiguities of the statutes before the federal court makes a determination as to constitutionality,” said Charlie Price, Edmondson's spokesman.
The lawsuit was filed by the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Religious Leaders, multiple John and Jane Doe plaintiffs, a handful of Oklahoma businesses and two churches.
On Oct. 22, U.S. District Judge James Payne dismissed the plaintiffs' lawsuit against the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, which Henry signed into law earlier this year. Payne ruled, among other things, that the groups had no standing to sue.
The groups refiled the lawsuit on Oct. 25 and amended it six days later, a few hours before a hearing on a request for a preliminary injunction that would've stopped the law from going into the effect the next day.
Payne said the plaintiffs failed to bring evidence to show the law would cause irrevocable harm, but he didn't weigh in on the merits of the case. Price said the state's arguments don't deal with the merits of the case, either.
“We are arguing the exact same things as we did last time. There is no need for a lawsuit,” Price said, adding that the state maintains the plaintiffs involved have not been harmed by the law.
House Bill 1804 hadn't taken effect when the first lawsuit was filed Oct. 15.
The plaintiffs have until Thursday to respond.
Information from: The Oklahoman, www.newsok.com and the Tulsa World, www.tulsaworld.com