The court backed a section of the Arizona state law that calls for police to check the immigration status of people they stop. – Supreme Court Upholds Key Part of Arizona Law [Wall Street Journal]
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS jumped in to make the majority and avert a tie, due to Justice Kagan’s recusal, that would throw the whole thing back to Arizona, which resulted in the most controversial section of the state’s law being upheld. It means that when a Hispanic is stopped for any reason whatsoever in Arizona he or she can be asked about their legal status, which was unanimous among the Court.
As Pete Williams of NBC News analyzed, the majority put their feet down that federal law trumps state, which was the bottom line on today’s ruling.
Gov. Brewer was thrilled and short-sided.
Gov. Brewer called the decision “a victory for the rule of law.” She said she recently issued a new order to train officers to enforce the law without racial profiling. “I am confident our officers are prepared to carry out this law responsibly and lawfully,” she said in a statement.
What Gov. Brewer doesn’t get is that the racial profiling aspect wasn’t before the Court on this one, but you can bet it will be another time, because this ruling leaves the Walking While Brown portion of Arizona’s law whole, so that when someone is challenged he or she can sue.
This isn’t over.
The aspect SCOTUS upheld of Arizona’s law will inevitably be challenged on constitutional grounds when someone asserts racial profiling in a case yet to manifest.
The legal analysis from SCOTUSBLOG:
Here is a rundown on the Court’s ruling with respect to each relevant challenge:
1. Police Checks. Section 2(B) of the law requires the police to check the immigration status of persons whom they detain before releasing them. It also allows the police to stop and detain anyone suspected of being an undocumented immigrant. The Court held that the lower courts were wrong to prevent this provision from going into effect while its lawfulness is being litigated. It was not sufficiently clear that the provision would be held preempted, the Court held. The Court took pains to point out that the law, on its face, prohibits stops based on race or national origin and provides that the stops must be conducted consistent with federal immigration and civil rights laws. However, it held open that the provision could eventually be invalidated after trial.
2. State Law Crime of Being In The Country Illegally. Although federal law already makes it illegal for someone to be in the country without proper authorization, Section 3 of the Arizona statute also makes it a state crime, subject to additional fines and possible imprisonment. The Court held that this provision was preempted and cannot be enforced. The Court held that Congress has left no room for states to regulate in this field, even to implement the federal prohibition.
3. Ban on Working In The State. Section 5(C) of the statute also makes it a state crime for undocumented immigrants from applying for a job or working in the state. It is also held preempted as imposing an obstacle to the federal regulatory system. Because Congress obviously chose not make working in the country without proper authorization a federal crime, states cannot enact additional criminal penalties Congress decided not to impose.
4. Warrantless Arrest Of Individuals Believed To Have Committed A Deportable Crime. Section 6 of the statute authorizes state law enforcement officials to arrest without a warrant any individual otherwise lawfully in the country, if law enforcement officials have probable cause to believe the individual has committed a deportable offense. The Court held that this provision is preempted. Whether and when to arrest someone for being unlawfully in the country is a question solely for the federal government.