By Harriet McLeod
CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - A federal judge who in December blocked parts of a South Carolina law cracking down on illegal immigrants said on Monday the law would remain on hold until an appeals court ruled on the case.
That means South Carolina still cannot enforce a provision requiring police to check the immigration status of people they stop. The U.S. Supreme Court last month upheld that controversial aspect of a similar law in Arizona.
U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel in December blocked that piece of the law and others from taking effect in South Carolina. He held a hearing on Monday by teleconference in his chambers in Charleston to revisit his order in light of the Supreme Court ruling. The media were not allowed to attend.
Gergel issued an order afterward saying the Supreme Court ruling "raises substantial issues" about his order blocking parts of the South Carolina measure.
But the judge said he no longer had jurisdiction to alter his ruling and would have to wait for action by the appellate court.
He said that because the state had appealed his injunction, it would remain in place until the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals either lifted it or sent the case back to him for reconsideration.
State officials want the case decided by the appeals court.
"We believe that the appeal needs to remain at the 4th Circuit, so that the Court of Appeals can determine all issues at one time," said Mark Plowden, spokesman for the state Attorney General's Office.
South Carolina is one of five states - including Alabama, Georgia, Indiana and Utah - that modeled their laws after Arizona's crackdown on illegal immigrants. Continued...