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Ariz. Gov. Brewer wants Supreme Court ruling on immigration law

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Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said Wednesday she hopes the U.S. Supreme Court steps in soon to rule on whether her state's tough anti-illegal immigration law is constitutional.

"We believe that we will probably hear from the Supreme Court sometime in December whether they will hear the legislation or not," the Republican governor said on The Washington Times-affiliated "America's Morning News" radio program.

"It's so important not only for Arizona, but for [EnLeader] all of America. The bottom line is that we've got 33 other states that have implemented or have tried to implement similar pieces of legislation. It needs to be decided who is responsible. Hopefully, the federal government will understand, if [the Supreme Court] rules in our favor, that the states do have a right.

"If [federal officials] are not going to do the job, if they're not going to enforce the immigration laws, well, then the states are going to have to step up and do it," she said. "But I still maintain, as I believe all of America maintains, it is the federal government's responsibility and they simply aren't doing it."

During Wednesday's interview, the governor also spoke briefly about Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who earlier this week gave her first public interview since being shot in the head in Tucson in January.

"It's so uplifting to know that she can come from where she was to where she is today," Mrs. Brewer said. "It leaves you almost breathless, gives you a lot of hope."

Mrs. Brewer, who replaced Janet A. Napolitano when she joined the Obama administration to head the Department of Homeland Security, signed one of the nation's strictest anti-illegal immigration laws in 2010.

The law requires police to check the immigration status of detainees if the officer has reason to suspect they are in the country illegally.

But implementation of several key elements of the law have been put on hold by a lower court following a challenge by President Obama's Justice Department.

Last week, the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to stay out of the case for now, saying it's too early for the justices to rule on laws that are working their way up through appellate courts.

"That several states have recently adopted new laws in this important area is not a sufficient reason for this court to grant review," of the lower court rulings that have nullified much of the Arizona law, Justice officials said in a court filing.

The Justice Department also has filed suits to challenge tough new anti-illegal measures in Alabama, where state lawmakers passed a law that requires schools check students' immigration status, and a new South Carolina law that requires police officers to call federal immigration officials to report suspected illegals.

Republicans on Capitol Hill have threatened to cut off funding for the Justice Department to prevent the Obama administration from punishing states that take on illegal immigrants.

"It's absurd that the Obama administration, which has failed to enforce the nation's immigration laws, is now stopping South Carolina, Alabama and Arizona from taking commonsense steps to protect citizens and uphold the law," Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, said earlier this month.

President Obama has called the Arizona's bill a "misguided" idea that "threatens to undermine basic notions of fairness."

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