The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled unanimously that Arpaio, whose Phoenix-area department has been aggressive in trying to deport immigrants in the country illegally, did not have standing to sue.
Arpaio had complained that the administration's deferred-deportation program -- allowing up to 5 million immigrants to stay in the country -- would serve as a magnet for others to cross from Mexico into his jurisdiction in Maricopa County. He contended that those crossing the border illegally would stay in his area and commit crimes.
But in her opinion for a three-judge panel, Judge Nina Pillard, a controversial Obama appointee approved by the
Administration officials praised the ruling.
"The court correctly recognized that the constitution does not permit federal courts to hear lawsuits that rest on baseless speculation," said White House spokesman Eric Schultz. "We will continue to work toward resolving the legal challenges so that the administration can move forward with implementing all of the president's commonsense immigration policies."
Friday's ruling may do little to advance Obama's program. A Texas judge has ruled in a separate case that the deferred-action program is unconstitutional. It remains on hold while the administration appeals to the conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
Signaling that its interest in Arpaio has not waned, the Justice Department on Thursday joined a private suit against Arpaio on some of the same issues.
Arpaio's lawyer, Washington gadfly Larry Klayman of Judicial Watch, said he would appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
FOR THE RECORD
Aug. 17, 12:23 p.m.: This article identifies Arizona Sheriff Joseph Arpaio's attorney, Larry Klayman, as being part of Judicial Watch. Klayman is founder of the conservative legal foundation, but not currently a representative of the group.