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SCOTUS Strikes Down 75% of Arizona’s Controversial Immigration Law


Today was a big day for the SCOTUS … this is a huge week for rulings from the Supreme Court with their official ruling on Obamacare coming on Thursday at 10am.  Today – the Supreme Court gave a very big victory with one caveat to the Obama administration who challenged the legality of the very controversial and contentious Arizona state law that is largely viewed as being anti-Latino (certainly by me).

The four elements of the law that the SCOTUS ruled on today for S.B. 1070  - Arizona Vs. United States were:

  1. Whether it is a crime to fail to carry valid immigration papers.  They struck down that portion of the law 5 – 3.
  2. Whether it is a crime to apply for or hold a job without valid immigration papers.  They struck down that portion of the law 5 – 3.
  3. Whether it is legal for a police officer to arrest someone without a warrant based on probably cause.  They struck down that portion of the law 5 – 3.
  4. Whether it is legal for a police officer to check the immigration status of an individual if they believe a person is an illegal immigrant … also known as the “show me your papers” provision.  They ruled in favor of this 5 – 3 but left the door open to a potential legal challenge in the future once the law is in place.

Amy Howe at ScotusBlog explains the SCOTUS’s decision to maintain the “show me your papers” provision HERE:

Citing language in the Arizona law that prohibits police officers from considering race or national origin, the Court held that the provision could at least go into effect for now.  But it left open the possibility that opponents of the law could return to court to challenge it once it has been enforced and Arizona courts have a chance to interpret it.

The Supreme Court made quite clear that the key to the provision surviving in the future will be whether it is interpreted in a way that does not prolong detentions of people who are stopped by police.  The upshot is that if a person is arrested, Arizona can check his immigration status while it holds him.  But if the person is merely detained – for example, at a traffic stop – the immigration check will probably take too long and he will probably have to be released.  The check can then continue without the individual there.

Unfortunately – the Supreme Court is looking more and more like our everyday partisan politics than legal scholars interpreting the Constitution.  It’s pretty clear that a few of them are playing loose with the facts.  One example is Justice Scalia…. he said:

 “If securing its territory in this fashion is not within the power of Arizona, we should cease referring to it as a sovereign state.”
~Justice Antonin Scalia (R-Koch)

Justice Scalia’s quote above is pretty amazing considering that on the SAME DAY he ruled in favor of Arizona’s right as a “sovereign state” to “secure it’s territory” … Justice Scalia voted against state’s rights in favor saying their interests in trying to protect itself through campaign finance laws was an affront to free speech for corporations (source).  The hypocrisy can only be explained through a political lens … and unfortunately – Justice Scalia (R-Koch) has a lifetime seat without worry of penalty.  You can read more of his incendiary anti-Obama comments from just yesterday HERE.

Lyle Deniston says Justice Scalia’s political slant was “remarkable” and not in a good way.  Article HERE.

The fourth opinion, however, was just short of a political talking-points document, essentially choosing up sides in this year’s presidential campaign — indeed, it took sides in a week-old development in the ongoing political controversy over how President Obama is using his powers.  That opinion, by Justice Antonin Scalia, reached far outside the record of the case to find reasons to denounce the Obama Administration for supposedly not even wanting “to enforce the immigration laws as written.”  Even for a judge who wears his sentiments on the sleeve of his robe, this was remarkable, and not one of his colleagues would sign on to those remarks.

When reporters asked the Romney campaign what his position was regarding the Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s controversial immigration law … here was their embarrassing response:

“I would have preferred to see the Supreme Court give more latitude to the states, not less.  And there are states now under this decision [that] have less authority, less latitude, to enforce immigration laws.”
~Mitt Romney, today

As Politico notes – the Romney campaigns has failed to say where exactly he stands on the Supreme Court ruling.  Article HERE:

Every sentence of the six-line statement from Romney that was released by the campaign contained a criticism of Obama, but at no point did Romney definitively state whether he agreed or disagreed with the Supreme Court ruling.

The presumptive GOP presidential nominee held no public events in Arizona, remaining in the state only a few hours for a fundraiser at a Scottsdale hotel. He opted not to speak to the gaggle of reporters who flew with him in the morning from Salt Lake City.

Immigration has become a difficult issue for Romney, who took a position during the primary that was considered more conservative than the rest of the field. On Thursday, the Republican provided few details about how he would approach illegal immigration while addressing a conference of elected Hispanic leaders in Orlando, Fla.

Jonathan Martin notes that Romney simply will not take positions on a whole host of issues HERE:

But when Romney spoke to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), he only reiterated what he had said earlier in the week about the citizenship status of children of illegal immigrants.

“I will put in place my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the president’s temporary measure,” he told the group about President Barack Obama’s hotly debated directive regarding the DREAM Act.

But on the question of what exactly such a long-term solution would be, the GOP nominee isn’t saying.

Vague, general or downright evasive policy prescriptions on some of the most important issues facing the country are becoming the rule for Romney. Hoping to make the campaign strictly a referendum on the incumbent, the hyper-cautious challenger is open about his determination to not give any fodder to Obama aides hungry to make the race as much about Romney as the president.

Romney is remarkably candid, almost as though he’s reading the stage directions, about why he won’t offer up details: he thinks it will undermine his chances to win.

(Source: jayaprada)

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