By Lawrence Hurley
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday left intact a Nebraska town's ordinance that cracks down on illegal immigration, declining to hear an appeal filed by a civil rights group.
The 2010 ordinance in Fremont, Nebraska, includes a provision that bars landlords from renting to illegal immigrants.
Plaintiffs represented by the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund sued, saying the measure was trumped by federal immigration law.
The high court's decision not to hear the plaintiffs' appeal leaves intact a June 2013 ruling by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which concluded that the ordinance does not conflict with federal law.
The rental provision, one of only a handful around the country, requires prospective tenants to obtain an occupancy license. They must declare their immigration status. City police then check with the federal government. If a tenant is found to be an illegal immigrant, the license is revoked.
In March, the Supreme Court declined to take up two similar cases in which lower courts had struck down ordinances in Texas and Pennsylvania.
The ordinances in those cases were slightly different in that they imposed penalties on immigrants, which the Fremont ordinance does not.
The last time the court decided a major immigration case was in 2012 when it partially upheld Arizona's immigration law. The previous year, the court upheld another Arizona law that penalizes businesses for hiring illegal immigrants.
In April 2013, the court signaled a reluctance to get further involved in immigration when it declined to hear an appeal from Alabama seeking to revive a section of the state's immigration law that criminalized the harboring of illegal immigrants.
The case is Keller v. Fremont, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 13-1043.
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Howard Goller and W Simon)