Supreme Court Struck Down Most of Arizona’s Immigration Law

The Supreme Court struck down most of Arizona’s immigration law, but left intact the most controversial part.

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down most Arizona’s tough immigration law as an unlawful infringement on federal power, in a ruling that promises to further bolster President Obama’s immigration stance and chill states that had hoped they could use their own powers to prod him to act on illegal immigration.

The court said state and local police can continue to ask the legal status of those they suspect of being in the country illegally and can report them to federal officials, but struck down the state’s efforts to impose its own penalties against illegal immigrants.

Of four major provisions, the court struck down three of them — the ones that created state penalties for illegal immigrants who tried to find jobs and legal immigrants who fail to carry their papers, and that allowed police to arrest those they believed were deportable.

The 5-3 decision comes little more than a week after Mr. Obama announced he would stop deporting most young adult illegal immigrants, and coupled with the ruling it marks a seismic shift in the national immigration debate.

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said states cannot try to act in an area where the Constitution specifically grants powers to Congress — in this case Article I, Section 8, Clause 4, which says Congress has powers over naturalization. That has long been interpreted to mean only the federal government can set immigration policy unless it specifically invites states to play a role. (Read More)

Kennedy was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Justices Sonia Sotomayer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer. Justice Elena Kagan didn’t take part in the ruling and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote dissents.

As for a ruling on Obamacare, I just heard that the Court said that decision will be released on Thursday.

Update: Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is happy with the ruling.

“Today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is a victory for the rule of law. It is also a victory for the 10th Amendment and all Americans who believe in the inherent right and responsibility of states to defend their citizens,” Gov. Brewer said in a statement. “After more than two years of legal challenges, the heart of SB 1070 can now be implemented in accordance with the U.S. Constitution.”