Judge's ruling on federalization out before Nov. 28
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
By Ferdie de la Torre
The judge that is handling the CNMI government's lawsuit against federalization has disclosed that he will issue a ruling on the case before Nov. 28, 2009, according to Gov. Benigno R. Fitial's special legal counsel, Howard Willens.
In an e-mail yesterday, Willens said that U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Paul L. Friedman had announced during a telephone status conference late Friday afternoon that he will issue his opinion on the federalization lawsuit before the start date of federalization.
The Department of Homeland Security is set to implement federal immigration laws in the CNMI on Nov. 28, under the authority provided by the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008.
Willens said the counsel for the Commonwealth and the U.S. Department of Justice participated in the status conference, which took up the CNMI's motion to stop DHS from implementing its interim final rule.
The interim final rule was published on Oct. 27, 2009. It is scheduled to become effective on Nov. 28, 2009, providing for a CNMI Transitional Worker Program.
The CNMI contends that the DHS cannot justify its failure to follow the notice and comment provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act before issuing these regulations in final form.
Willens said that Friedman instructed DOJ to file its response by Nov. 13, 2009. The judge also gave the CNMI until Nov. 18 to file its reply brief. Friedman set the oral argument on the motion on Monday, Nov. 23, 2009.
Willens said that Friedman told both CNMI and Justice counsels that he was working on his opinion on the Commonwealth's earlier motion seeking a preliminary injunction of selected provisions of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act and the Justice's motion to dismiss the federalization lawsuit.
The CNMI, through counsel Jenner & Block law firm, filed on Nov. 2, 2009, a memorandum in support of the motion for a preliminary injunction that seeks to stop the implementation and enforcement of the DHS regulations that were promulgated on Oct. 27.
According to Jenner & Block, the Commonwealth has met all the requirements for the issuance of a preliminary injunction.
The law firm asked the court to issue a preliminary injunction barring DHS from enforcing or implementing the interim permit rule pending the court's resolution of the Commonwealth's claims on the merits.
The CNMI recently filed an amended complaint, asking the court to declare invalid the DHS interim final rule on the CNMI transitional worker program.