There was a lot of confusing reportage in the initial moments after the Arizona immigration decision was handed down.
Here’s a brief explanation:
On balance the decision was more favorable to the Obama Administration, which sued to block the law, than many observers had expected it to be. The court found that the federal government’s longstanding role in immigration enforcement preempted most of Arizona’s efforts to regulate immigration itself. That finding knocked out most of the law as unconstitutional.
The one piece the court declined to rule unconstitutional is its most controversial: stop and check. The justices ruled that the lower court injunction blocking the enforcement of that provision was premature.
“There is a basic uncertainty about what the law means and how it will be enforced,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote.
So the court will allow it to go into effect and let the state courts determine whether in practice and effect the provision is unconstitutional.
“This opinion does not foreclose other preemption and constitutional challenges to the law as interpreted and applied after it goes into effect,” the majority concluded, suggesting the Supreme Court may take it up again down the road.
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.