On February 1, 2008, national, state and local chambers of commerce and other nonprofit organizations advocating for their members' business interests filed a lawsuit against the State of Oklahoma in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma under the supremacy clause of the federal constitution. The plaintiffs, represented by private and public interest council, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that parts of the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act were preempted by federal legislation. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that Sections 7 and 9 of that act, which impose tax penalties on businesses that don't check the work eligibility of all of their employees in a federal database and allow discharged employees to bring discrimination suits against their employers for employing unauthorized workers, were preempted by the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act.
Plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction on the same day that they filed their complaint, and defendants moved to dismiss the claim on February 20, 2008. On June 4, 2008, the Court (Judge Robin J. Cauthron) ruled on both motions, denying the motion to dismiss and granting the preliminary injunction. Chamber of Commerce of the U.S. v. Henry, No. CIV-08-109-C, 2008 WL 2329164 (W.D. Okla. June 4, 2008).
The defendants appealed to the Tenth Circuit, and on February 2, 2010, the Court of Appeals (Judge Harris L. Hartz, Judge Paul Joseph Kelly, Jr., and Judge Carlos F. Lucero) affirmed the District Court's grant of a preliminary injunction barring the discrimination lawsuit provisions and the tax penalty provisions from taking effect, but reversed the grant of injunction as to the verification requirement. Chamber of Commerce of the U.S. v. Edmondson, 594 F.3d 742 (10th Cir. 2010).
The case was remanded to the District Court. In June of 2010, the court granted a continuance of the case pending the Supreme Court's decision in Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Whiting (IM-AZ-0013). On May 26, 2011, the Supreme Court (Justice Samuel A. Alito) issued its opinion, holding that federal law does not preempt an Arizona law that requires businesses to verify employees' work eligibility and allows the state to revoke the business licenses of employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers. Chamber of Commerce of the U.S. v. Whiting, 131 S. Ct. 1968 (2011).
On June 23, 2011, the District Court (Judge Cauthron) granted another continuance to allow the parties to assess the impact of Whiting on their positions.
On December 19th, 2012, the court entered the final judgment. Section 7(b) remained good law, which require persons to contract with the State to use the employment authorization system. However, section 7(c), which creates a cause of action for discrimination against employers who terminate an authorized employee while retaining an unauthorized employee and section 9, which requires businesses to verify individual independent contractors’ authorization status and creates a withholding for work performed by individual independent contractors, were both struck down. Oklahoma is permanently enjoined from enforcing these provisions.
The court ordered all parties to bear their own fees and costs in this matter. Christopher Schad - 06/01/2012
Sihang Zhang - 11/02/2016