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Robert Stewart, Inc. v. Cherokee County, Georgia

On December 5, 2006, the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners unanimously enacted Georgia’s first ordinance prohibiting the rental of dwelling units to unauthorized immigrants in its unincorporated territory. The Commission’s proffered reason for the ordinance was to address the County’s problems with overcrowding, poor housing conditions, and crime; yet it provided no empirical evidence that illegal immigration contributed to these blights.

On January 4, 2007, MALDEF filed a complaint alleging that the ordinance violated the United States Constitution’s Supremacy, Due Process, Equal Protection, Self-Incrimination, Free Speech and Contract Clauses. MALDEF also alleged that it violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA), and several state constitutional provisions and statutes.

In light of MALDEF’s victory in Garrett v. City of Escondido, CA, MALDEF convinced the County Attorney to agree to a Consent Order that granted Plaintiffs' request for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and preliminary injunction pending the final resolution of similar ordinances that were being litigated in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and in Valley Park, Missouri.  On January 4, 2007, U.S. District Judge Timothy Hatten signed the Consent Order granting Plaintiffs' request for a TRO and preliminary injunction, which prevents the County from enforcing the ordinance until the challenges in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and in Valley Park, Missouri are completely resolved.

In late August, 2007, MALDEF and its co-counsel agreed to the administrative closure of the case pending final decisions and appeals were exhausted in the Valley Park, Missouri, and Hazelton, Pennsylvania cases. MALDEF negotiated to incorporate specific language stating that the court’s temporary restraining order remains effective throughout the closure, and the Court incorporated such language in its order.