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WASHINGTON � The Bush administration is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to deny review of a constitutional challenge to a Louisiana State Bar Association rule that prohibits non-immigrant alien attorneys from obtaining licenses to practice law. The high court had requested the views of the Solicitor General in two cases: Wallace v. Calogero, No, 05-1645, and Leclerc v. Webb, No. 06-11. The two cases have been brought by two United Kingdom, one Canadian and three French lawyers who are legally in this country on visas lasting six to 10 years or longer. One is a 2003 graduate of Tulane University School of Law. They are working as legal assistants in death penalty and other types of cases. The five foreign lawyers � H-1B visa holders � cannot practice in Louisiana because of Louisiana Bar Rule 3(B), which provides that every applicant for admission to the bar must be “a citizen of the United States or a resident alien thereof.” In 2002, the Louisiana Supreme Court, which enforces the rule, reversed its decades-old interpretation of the rule and declared that “resident alien” means only aliens who are entitled to permanent residence in this country. Making an equal protection claim, their lawyers contend the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that state laws which discriminate solely against subclassifications of lawfully-admitted aliens must meet strict scrutiny review. They also argue that federal immigration law, which makes clear that an H-1B visa holder is admitted to the United States for the purpose of engaging in a “specialty occupation” preempts state licensing regimes that bar those visa holders from obtaining a state license. But the Solicitor General counters that federal immigration law does not preempt the bar rule. Congress, he said, left states largely free to determine standards for obtaining licenses. He also contends that nonimmigrant aliens do not have the same claim to equal treatment as resident aliens because they are here temporarily, are subject to restrictions and don’t have the same ties to this country as resident aliens. Reacting to the administration’s position that review should be denied, Jeffrey Sarles, co-chair of the Supreme Court and Appellate Practice Group of Chicago’s Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, and counsel to the Leclerc group, said, “We think the Solicitor General has greatly underestimated the potential for substantial interference with federal immigration policy if states are permitted to discriminate against lawfully admitted aliens based on their immigration classification.” Requiring that discrimination to be scrutinized strictly, he added, “comports with both the Supreme Court’s equal protection precedents and sound preemption principles.” The justices have listed the cases for consideration at their June 7 conference and a decision whether to grant review may come by the end of June.

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