Florida Supreme Court Considers Law License For Undocumented Immigrant

Oct 2, 2012

The Florida Board of Bar Examiners wants the state's highest court to weigh in on whether it should waive its rules and allow an undocumented immigrant to become a lawyer. The Florida Supreme Court took up the case Tuesday, but appeared skeptical about claims that it has the authority to admit Jose Godinez-Samperio to the Florida Bar.

Godinez-Samperio has applied for a federal initiative that allows children of undocumented immigrants to receive work permits and not be deported. However the initiative was created through a presidential executive order. Justices say say the executive order does not amount to a law.

"Doesn’t this court have an obligation to follow the federal law to the extent that its applicable? And hasn’t the Department of Justice taken the position that that federal law would preclude the issuance of a license to practice law in circumstances such as are before us?”  Said Chief Justice Charles Canady.

And other members of the high court say they case may not be within the court's authority to rule.

“You’re asking us for advice, but you’re the experts with looking at thousands of people every year. What is the appropriate character and fitness of this particular individual?” Said Justice Barbara Pariente.

Even if Godinez-Samperio is allowed to stay in the United States under the presidential order,  it’s not certain whether he could be admitted to the Bar. The Florida Supreme Court did not say when it would issue a ruling in the case.

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