SCOTUS Hands Down Arizona Immigration Ruling


The Supreme Court released its decision today on Arizona v. United States, the case which decided the fate of the controversial immigration bill in Arizona, S.B. 1070. The court struck down three out of four provisions in the law, but unanimously upheld perhaps the most controversial aspect of the bill.

The provisions that were struck down included one which would have criminalized an undocumented immigrant’s presence in Arizona, one which turned an immigrant’s job search into a crime, and another that would have authorized police officers to arrest anyone they felt had committed an offense punishable by deportation without a warrant. The upheld aspect, widely known as “show me your papers,” requires law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of anyone stopped, arrested, or detained in Arizona who they believe to be undocumented.

The decision was 5-3, with Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas dissenting. Justice Elena Kagan had worked on the case as Solicitor General, and so did not participate. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the decision.

This decision sets an important precedent, as there are similar bills in Indiana, Georgia, Utah, Alabama, and South Carolina. It is not necessarily the end of the legal battle. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton heard arguments earlier this month on the potential certification of a class containing hundreds of thousands of individuals. Rather than challenging the bill’s relation to federal policy, as the recent Supreme Court case did, this case would introduce free speech, equal protection, and due process challenges, according to The Huffington Post.

The Obama administration does not support any of the provisions in the bill and claims that immigration is a federal issue. Presumed GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney disagrees with the Obama decision to contest the law.

With any luck, the potential class action case will eventually strike down the “show me your papers” provision of the law. The law attacks Latinos more than any other group and encourages racial profiling, and is thus in violation of equal protection and due process. The ruling will have negative effects for young Latino Americans, who will now face profiling and extra scrutiny if already under suspicion by law enforcement.

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