Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Supreme Court Seems Inclined To Uphold Most Of Arizona Immigration Law

Live arguments continued today in the Supreme Court chambers on the Federal suit against Arizona's immigration law, SB 1070.

Surprisingly, the majority of justices seem inclined to rule that most portions of the law are constitutional.

There are four main parts to the law:

  • Requiring police to verify the immigration status of everyone they stop who they reasonably suspect may lack authorization to be in the U.S.

  • Authorizing police to arrest any foreign citizen they believe has committed a deportable offense.

  • Making it a crime for foreigners to fail to carry registration documents.

  • Making it a crime for illegal immigrants to seek or perform work.

Each of those provisions involves a separate legal analysis, meaning that the Supreme Court could end up upholding some of the provisions but not others.

Most of the justices appear to have no real problem with the first two parts,and even some of the court’s left leaning justices, though expressing concerns wondered whether Arizona could actually be prohibited from checking the immigration status of individuals within its borders, since this mirrors federal statutes. As questions to the Obama Administration's lawyer, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli indicated, he's not doing much of a job of making the case on those parts of the law.

When even the Wise Latina, Justice Sonia Sotomayor ( who by the way, uses the term “illegal aliens,”) chides Verrilli for giving confusing answers and says his arguments 'aren't selling very well', you know the Obama Administration is in trouble on this one.

The last two parts of the law are a bit more problematic, since they establish new state crimes. Requiring foreigners to carry paperwork is the less dicey of the two, since a peace officer could simply require someone whose status was in question to bring his paperwork at a later date, or simply perform an immigration status with the Federal government, something that's routinely done anyway in arrest situations and takes about ten minutes.

The last part, making it a crime for an illegal alien to seek or perform work is one that might have trouble flying. In the immigration law of 1986, Congress specifically decriminalized this aspect, and most of the focus has been on penalizing employers.

If even the first two parts of the law pass muster with the SCOTUS, it will be a major victory for the State of Arizona, since those constitute the heart of SB 1070.

As a special added twist, Obama appointee Justice Elena Kagen had to recuse herself from this case since she worked on the original suit as Solicitor General prior to joining the Court.

One thing to consider. Just as he did with the arguments on ObamaCare, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli has given a less than stellar performance. And just like ObamaCare, it's worth considering whether this was deliberate.

The Scotus ruling is due in June. Imagine they uphold the key provisions of SB 1070.

Senate Democrats led by Chuck Schumer have already threatened the Court that they will attempt to intervene legislatively if the Court doesn't 'rule right'.

It's doubtful they have the votes to overturn a ruling, but if they go through the kabuki outrage anyway, it gives President Obama another nice, divisive issue to run on that obscures his idsmal record of incompetency, doesn't it?

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