On Monday the Supreme Court issued its ruling on the constitutional challenge filed against the Arizona immigration statute. In the decision, one of the four provisions at issue was upheld, while the remaining three were struck down.
The part of the law (Arizona State Bill 1070) upheld by the justices is that permitting law enforcement to verify the immigration status of anyone even briefly detained as a part of a routine stop.
The justices struck down the three remaining provisions of S.B. 1070 that were up for review. Those three parts of the law are:
• Making it a crime for an illegal immigrant to work or to seek work in Arizona;
• Authorizing state and local law enforcement to arrest a suspect without a warrant if the officers can show probable cause to believe that the suspect is illegally present in the state; and
• Mandating that all immigrants register with the federal government.
In the majority opinion, Justice Kennedy wrote:
The National Government has significant power to regulate immigration. With power comes responsibility, and the sound exercise of national power over immigration depends on the Nation’s meeting its responsibility to base its laws on a political will informed by searching, thoughtful, rational civic discourse. Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration while that process continues, but the State may not pursue policies that undermine federal law.
The justices were divided in their decision, with Justice Kennedy (who wrote the majority opinion) joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor in the majority. Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito agreed with the majority in upholding the constitutionality of the one provision, but dissented from the majority’s decision to strike down the remaining three parts of the Arizona statute.
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