SCOTUS to Rule on Arizona Immigration Law
Today, the Supreme Court announced that it will review the constitutionality of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, SB 1070. An argument date has not yet been set, but it will likely be in the spring. Arizona appealed to the highest court after U.S. Court of Appeals for the ninth Circuit in San Francisco ruled that the state’s legislation was attempting to usurp the power of the federal government. In its appeal, Arizona expressed that as a border state, it bears the weight of a broken immigration system, and that the state law was intended to work with the federal government to improve the system.
When Arizona Governor, Jan Brewer (R), signed the bill into law, she stated that the law was designed to “solve a crisis we did not create and the federal government has refused to fix.” The Obama Administration sued Arizona, arguing that some of the law’s provisions were unconstitutional. In July 2010, a federal district court judge struck down notorious provisions of the law, such as the requirement of law enforcement officials to demand immigration papers from those whom they suspect are undocumented. In April 2011, the ninth circuit court upheld the lower court’s decision against the state’s law, thus provoking Arizona to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Perhaps more newsworthy than the scheduled hearing is Justice Kagan’s recusal, but it is unlikely that her absence will make a significant difference in the ruling: Should the five conservative justices all vote in favor of Arizona’s law, Kagan’s vote (or lack thereof) would make little difference. Should the votes come out evenly, then Supreme Court regulations specify that the lower court decision remains in place (i.e. it would be as if the Court had never agreed to hear the case in the first place).