Supreme Court to Review Arizona’s Immigration Law

On December 16, 2011, in Legal Matters, by Maggie Ernst

The Supreme Court on Monday announced it will review Arizona’s controversial immigration law, which inspired similar state efforts across the country. Arguments will most likely take place in late April, setting the stage for an election-year decision on this contentious issue.  The immigration case before the Supreme Court stems from the Obama administration’s legal fights against a patchwork of state laws targeting illegal immigrants.

The justices said they will review an April ruling  from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit  in San Francisco that upheld a federal judge’s ruling blocking several tough provisions of the new law.  The provisions block include making it a state crime to be in the country illegally and failing to register with the federal government; making it illegal to seek work or to be working when not authorized; requiring state and local officials to try to determine the status of someone arrested, stopped, or detained if they believe the individual might be in the country unlawfully; and allowing the warrantless arrest of anyone who they have probable cause to believe might have violated laws that would make them deportable under federal law.

Previously, the Obama administration successfully challenged the Arizona law by arguing that regulating immigration is the job of the federal government, not states.   The Department of Justice  has filed suits to block similar laws in Alabama, South Carolina, and Utah, and the agency said it is reviewing laws in Georgia and Indiana that private groups and individuals have challenged.

Arizona told the justices in asking them to accept the case that more than half of all illegal immigrants enter through the state and that “the Ninth Circuit decision suggests that there is almost nothing Arizona can do to supplement the inadequate federal efforts.”

The Supreme Court now has three politically charged cases on its election-year calender.  The other two are President Obama’s health care overhaul and new electoral maps for Texas’ legislature and congressional delegation.