What is a federal judge's job when confronted with a request to block a new law that will substantially — maybe irreversibly — alter lives and shift the balance of government power?
If a strong argument can be made that the law, or parts of it, might turn out to be invalid, the judge is supposed to delay enforcement while the courts sort things out.
That's exactly what U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton did in the Obama administration's legal challenge to Arizona's new immigration law.
It's important to be clear on what Bolton's detailed, 36-page July 28 ruling did.
It blocked four key provisions of SB 1070 but let many others go into effect July 29, including those designed to inhibit day laborer hiring and let legal residents sue state officials for not enforcing federal immigration laws.
It did not declare any part of the state law unconstitutional but said the Justice Department is likely to win its claim that federal immigration law trumps Arizona's most-sweeping enactments.
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