Arizona Immigration Law Supreme Court Hearing Will Have Impact Other States

When the Supreme Court hears oral arguments over the constitutionality of Arizona’s strict immigration law on Wednesday morning, it wouldn’t just be Arizonans who are paying close attention.

The high court’s decision on whether the Arizona’s measure, considered the harshest immigration law in the land when in was passed back in 2010, steps on the federal government’s toes will likely have an impact on several other states which have passed similar measures. The Justice Department has sued three other states with immigration laws similar to Arizona’s — Alabama in August, South Carolina in October and Utah in November.A federal court issued a preliminary injunction against portions of SB 1070 because it interfered with the federal government’s authority on immigration policy, a decision upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Civil rights groups have argued that Arizona’s law is discriminatory but the Supreme Court is only interested, for now, on whether the law violates federal pre-emption. The government will argue that only the feds can deal with the issue of immigration.

“As the Framers understood, it is the National Government that has ultimate responsibility to regulate the treatment of aliens while on American soil, because it is the Nation as a whole — not any single State — that must respond to the international consequences of such treatment,” the government argued in a court brief.

The justices will be looking at four provisions of the law and whether they can continue being enforced as the remainder of the law makes its way through lower court. Here they are as summarized by SCOTUSBlog:

1. A requirement that police in the state check the legal status of persons arrested before they may be released. That provision also allows police to stop and arrest anyone suspected of being an undocumented immigrant. That is Section 2(B).

2. A provision making it a state crime to be in Arizona without legal immigration papers. Section 3.

3. A ban forbidding all undocumented immigrants from applying for a job or working in the state. Section 5(C).

4. A provision that allows police, without a warrant, to arrest anyone believed to have committed a crime that would lead to deportation, even if the crime had been committed in another state. Section 6.

The hearing gets underway at 10 a.m., and TPM’s Sahil Kapur will be in the courtroom to cover the arguments.