(CNN) - More than 20 Democratic lawmakers have recently asked a federal appeals court to invalidate President Donald Trump's pardon of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Arpaio, who was sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, was found in contempt of court in 2017 because he continued to make immigration arrests after a court ordered him to stop. But before he could be sentenced, Trump pardoned him.
The brief, filed last week on behalf of Democrats including Reps. Jerry Nadler, Eric Swalwell and Jackie Speier and obtained by CNN, urges "the Court to hold the President's pardon of Defendant Joseph M. Arpaio to be an invalid encroachment on the authority of the Judiciary and remand to the District Court to proceed to sentencing."
"The power to impose sanctions for contempt of court is an inherent power that is essential to the independence of the judiciary," the brief reads.
The brief was filed to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals by the counsel for the group of congressional Democrats, former Rep. Brad Miller of North Carolina and attorney Spencer G. Scharff.
Trump's pardon of Arpaio drew an outcry from civil rights groups, which accused Arpaio of violating the Constitution and discriminating against Latinos in his crackdown on illegal immigration.
Arpaio, who is nearly 87 years old and first took office in 1993, was accused of violating a court order in a racial profiling case by continuing patrols targeting immigrants.
He was first ordered in 2011 by a court to stop detaining people based simply on a belief that they were in the country illegally, and refused to comply.
The brief was also signed by Democrats Steve Cohen, Henry Johnson Jr., Ted Deutch, David Cicilline, Ted Lieu, Pramila Jayapal, Sylvia Garcia, Joe Neguse, Madeleine Dean, Veronica Escobar, Jim Costa, Adriano Espaillat, Dwight Evans, Ruben Gallego, Raúl Grijalva, Barbara Lee, Grace Napolitano, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Frank Pallone Jr., Juan Vargas and Nydia M. Velázquez.
Last week, the Supreme Court delivered a setback to Arpaio when it declined to review a lower court decision to appoint a special prosecutor in a case related to Arpaio's contempt of court conviction.
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