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Farmers Branch Wants En Banc Rehearing in Occupancy License Appeal

By Robyn Hagan Cain on April 26, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The City of Farmers Branch wants another day in court.

Perhaps further emboldened by the Supreme Court's reception in the Arizona S.B. 1070 arguments yesterday, the Dallas suburb is asking the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for an en banc rehearing on its "occupancy license" housing ordinance, reports NBC-DFW. The Fifth Circuit ruled in March that the ordinance was unconstitutional.

Farmers Branch adopted Ordinance 2952 in January 2008. The ordinance required every adult wishing to rent or lease any single family residence or apartment within Farmers Branch to apply for a residential occupancy license from the city's Building Inspector. A non-citizen prospective occupant had to provide an identification number establishing his or her lawful presence in the U.S. in order to get an occupancy license. The Building Inspector was required to verify each non-citizen's lawful presence with the federal government.

The housing ordinance also criminalized making false statements on an occupancy license application, occupying rental housing with a license, and knowingly permitting a person to occupy a rental unit without a valid license.

We're guessing that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will follow the Eleventh Circuit's lead, and delay further action on the case until the Supreme Court decides on the constitutionality of Arizona S.B. 1070. The Supreme Court will probably release that decision at the end of its term in June.

Based on the oral arguments in Arizona v. U.S., it's possible that some of the provisions in the Farmers Branch housing ordinance would survive. During arguments, the Supreme Court justices seemed to favor blocking the bill's criminal sanctions while allowing the proof of lawful status and warrantless arrest provisions to go into effect, provided detainees are not held longer than they would be in the absence of S.B. 1070, reports the Huffington Post.

If the actual opinion in Arizona v. U.S. echoes the perceived acceptance of certain S.B. 1070 provisions, it's possible that the Fifth Circuit would reach a different conclusion regarding the Farmers Branch occupancy license housing ordinance in en banc rehearing.

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