SCOTUS: Key Provision of Arizona Immigration Law Stands

While rejecting much of Arizona’s tough new immigration law, the Supreme Court has upheld a key provision allowing police to check the immigration status of people who have been detained. The court ruled on Monday that what Arizona has called a policy of “attrition through enforcement” does not appear to violate the Constitution by infringing on the federal government’s power to control immigration.

Rejected were provisions making it a state crime for immigrants not to register with the federal government and to seek or hold jobs without proper documents, as well as a measure that allowed the arrests of some people suspected of being deportable without a warrant.

The US government has said that Arizona’s tough new law, which five other states (Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah) have created legislation similar to, intrudes on federal oversight of immigration policy. President Obama has said that the law is a threat to ‘‘basic notions of fairness.’’ The White House had encouraged the Supreme Court to strike down the whole law.

Monday’s decision, written by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, was 5 to 3; Justice Elena Kagan was recused because of her previous role as solicitor general. Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr., Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented. The court was unanimous on the decision about the status checks.

Said Stephen W. Yale-Loehr, who teaches immigration law at Cornell University and is co-author of a treatise on the topic, in the New York Times:

“The court correctly held that federal immigration law trumps most of Arizona’s controversial immigration law,. But by upholding Arizona’s ‘check your papers’ provision, at least for now, the court has given other states a green light to try to enact similar immigration laws.”

“Some will be anti-immigrant, like Arizona’s. But other new state laws may be pro-immigrant, as states realize the importance of immigrants in their communities. The decision increases pressure on Congress to enact comprehensive immigration law to prevent a crazy patchwork of conflicting immigration laws around the country.”

The Supreme Court’s decision opens the field for other states to create similar legislation.

It also as advances a “political narrative” that could win President Barack Obama Latino votes, as Politico notes. Politico also underscores that Monday’s ruling was “far from a definitive verdict on the Arizona law known as S.B. 1070, since the case that the court decided did not address the most contentious charge about the legislation,” that it will lead to racial profiling of Latinos. The Supreme Court’s decision is, it is thought, likely to lead to “additional waves of litigation” due to profiling and concerns that US citizens or legal immigrants could be stopped and detained while police check their status.

Related Care2 Coverage

Romney’s New Immigration Policy a Mystery

Anti-Immigrant and Anti-Choice Laws Popping Up In Same States

The Disastrous Consequences of Alabama’s Anti-Immigration Law

Photo by dbking


LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

Derek H.
Derek H.4 years ago

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Ronald E.
Ronald E.4 years ago

Key provision upheld my ass! Does NOT give AZ any more authority than any other state under existing Federal law.

Vance Daddi
Vance Daddi4 years ago

Kristina Chew, go back and read the decision (or did you just copy the New York Times, who also got it wrong). SCOTUS in no way upheld the "key" to SB1070.

Thank you Sharlene H. You are the first one that got this right. It seems that the media are even more gullible than the people of Arizona. The only reason this entire piece of legislative trash was not overturned is because it has not been implemented yet, so there is no test for that one piece. As soon as an arrest is made and charges are filed for not having the proper documents, the case will go back to the Supremes; and, that will be the end of it. This was alluded to in Justice Kennedy's position in support of overturning SB1070.

Steve R.
Steve R.4 years ago

Common sense 101....

Law enforcement exists to catch and punish people that break the law.

Entering the USA without due process is prohibited by law by the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT! It is a criminal offense!

So what do we call it when the Federal government tries to STOP the states enforcing it's own FEDERAL LAW?

We call it "Democrats are desperate" for votes.

No need to thank me - I'm just doing my civic duty, clearing up any confusion that bleeding hearts might have on the subject of Arizona and SCOTUS!

John Mansky
John Mansky4 years ago

Thank you for the article...