Justice Department filing against Arizona

The U.S. Justice Department is filing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Arizona’s new law targeting illegal immigrants, setting the stage for a clash between the federal government and state over the nation’s toughest immigration crackdown. The planned lawsuit was confirmed to The Associated Press by a Justice Department official with knowledge of the plans. The official didn’t want to be identified before a public announcement planned for later Tuesday.

The lawsuit will argue that Arizona’s new measure requiring state and local police to question and possibly arrest illegal immigrants during the enforcement of other laws, like traffic stops, usurps federal authority. Tuesday’s action has been expected for weeks. President Barack Obama has called the state law misguided. Supporters say it is a reasonable reaction to federal inaction on immigration.

The law requires officers, while enforcing other laws, to question a person’s immigration status if there’s a reasonable suspicion that they are in the country illegally. Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed the law in April, and it was set to go into effect July 29. The lawsuit could delay implementation of the law. Arizona passed the law after years of frustration over problems associated with illegal immigration, including drug trafficking and violent kidnappings. The state is the biggest gateway into the U.S. for illegal immigrants, and is home to an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants. The lawsuit is expected to be announced by Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano, a former Arizona governor.

President Barack Obama addressed the Arizona law in a speech on immigration reform last week. He touched on one of the major concerns of federal officials, that other states were poised to follow Arizona by crafting their own immigration enforcement laws. “As other states and localities go their own ways, we face the prospect that different rules for immigration will apply in different parts of the country,” Obama said. “A patchwork of local immigration rules where we all know one clear national standard is needed.”

The law makes it a state crime for legal immigrants to not carry their immigration documents and bans day laborers and people who seek their services from blocking traffic on streets. The law also prohibits government agencies from having policies that restrict the enforcement of federal immigration law and lets Arizonans file lawsuits against agencies that hinder immigration enforcement.

A federal lawsuit will dramatically escalate the legal and political battle over the Arizona law, which gives police the power to question anyone if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is an illegal immigrant. In addition to Obama and Holder, the measure has drawn words of condemnation from civil rights groups and has prompted at least five other lawsuits. Arizona officials have defended the law and urged the Obama administration not to sue.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton first revealed last month that the Justice Department intended to sue Arizona, and department lawyers have been preparing their case, sources said. The filing is expected to include declarations from other U.S. agencies saying that the Arizona law would place an undue burden on their ability to enforce immigration laws nationwide, because Arizona police are expected to refer so many illegal immigrants to federal authorities.

USPS raising stamp prices again

The U.S. Postal Service proposed raising the price of first-class stamps by 2 cents, to 46 cents, and rates for periodicals by 8 percent and catalogs by 5.1 percent to narrow a deficit projected at $7 billion this year.

The price increases would raise $2.3 billion in the first nine months of 2011, the service said in a statement today in Washington. Increases, which must be reviewed by Postal Regulatory Commission, would take effect Jan. 2. “We’re doing this because the Postal Service really faces a serious risk of financial insolvency,” said Stephen Kearney, a senior vice president with the Postal Service.

The commission has 90 days to rule on the proposal, one of several steps the Postal Service is considering to cope with a decline in mail volume as Internet use increases. The service also is seeking approval from Congress to drop Saturday delivery, which has been provided since the Post Office was founded in 1863.

The Postal Service is using a legal provision that lets it propose rate increases greater than the rate of inflation under “exceptional or extraordinary” circumstances, Kearney said. The average proposed rate increase is 5.6 percent, compared with inflation of 0.6 percent, he said.

Mailers of catalogs, magazines and newspapers are prepared to fight the rate increase, James Cregan, executive vice president of government affairs for the Magazine Publishers of America, said in an interview before the announcement. The group’s members include Time Warner Inc. and Meredith Corp.

A joke in the past, is a joke in the future

JaMarcus Russell, former quarterback of the Oakland Raiders has been charged with codeine syrup possession and released on $2,500 bail. Russel’s arrest took place at his home in Alabama on Monday.

Russell rose through the ranks as the star quarterback at LSU, he was drafted in the No. 1 spot in 2007, unfortunately he failed to produce for the Raiders, winning only seven games in 25 starts, while completing just 52.1 percent of his passes with 18 career touchdowns. Russell managed only a 65.2 passer rating after throwing for 23 interceptions and giving up 15 lost fumbles.

Russell will return for a bond hearing on Wednesday and will then return again on July 20th to face charges. WALA-TV in Mobile, Alabama learned that the syrup codeine was being mixed with sprite to form a drink called “sip-sip.” If charged to the fullest extent of the law Russell can face a felony charge for carrying the drug without a prescription.

The former NFL QB should be able to afford top notch representation, having been paid $36.4 million through the 2009 season leading up to his release. ESPN is reporting that the New York Jets who had interest in acquiring Russell now have no intention of seeking his services.