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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

AZ Immigration Law: Another Bad Day For Obama Admin In Front Of Supreme Court

By Susan Duclos

The Obama administration found itself in front of the Supreme Court again today with the case of Arizona v. U.S. (11-182), this time arguing against Arizona's tough immigration law known as SB 1070, which was passed and then signed into law by AZ Governor Jan Brewer, giving the state more weapons to fight against illegal immigration.

News reports and analysis all indicate that today's questions by the Justices asking  Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli to defend the Obama's administrations objections to Arizona protecting their state against illegal immigration was reminiscent to the harsh questioning for  Verrilli in the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare arguments in late March.

The New York Times - "Justices Seem Sympathetic to Central Part of Arizona Law."
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. made clear that the case, like last month’s arguments over President Obama’s health care law, was about the allocation of state and federal power.

One particularly rocky moment for Verrilli is described by the NYT:

Most of the argument on Wednesday concerned the part of the law requiring state officials to check immigration status in some circumstances. That provision also requires that the immigration status of people who are arrested be determined before they are released.
Several justices said states were entitled to enact such provisions, which make mandatory practices that are already widespread.
“What does sovereignty mean if it does not include the ability to defend your borders?” Justice Antonin Scalia asked.
Chief Justice Roberts said the state law merely requires that the federal government be informed of immigration violations and leaves enforcement decisions to it. “It seems to me that the federal government just doesn’t want to know who is here illegally and who’s not,” he said.

The Hill - "Supreme Court seems favorable to Arizona illegal immigration law."

Supreme Court justices on Wednesday appeared highly doubtful of the Obama administration’s objections to a controversial immigration law in Arizona.

The ideologically diverse group of justices pummeled Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. with a morning full of questions, expressing serious doubts to the government’s claim that Arizona cannot require state law enforcement officials to verify a person’s legal status when they’re stopped on suspicion of committing a separate offense. 

More from The Hill article, linked above:

A final decision will not be reached until June, but the line of questioning from the more liberal and conservative justices alike seemed to indicate a belief that Arizona had a stronger case than the government on at least two of the law's four provisions under question.

Washington Times - "Supreme Court casts doubt on Obama’s immigration law claim."

Supreme Court justices took a dim view of the Obama administration’s claim that it can stop Arizona from enforcing immigration laws, telling government lawyers during oral argument Wednesday that the state appears to want to push federal officials, not conflict with them.

The Politico- "Supreme Court Justices seem likely to uphold key part of Arizona law."
The Supreme Court appears likely to side with Arizona over a key part of its controversial anti-illegal immigration law, rejecting the Obama administration’s claim that the state overreached its authority by requiring local police to check the immigration status of people suspected of being in the country illegally.

MSNBC- "Supreme Court signals it's OK with parts of Arizona's immigration law."
The U.S. Supreme Court indicated Wednesday it appears ready to uphold one of the most controversial parts of Arizona's immigration law: a requirement that police officers check the immigration status of people they think are in the country illegally. Wading into a highly divisive issue in the middle of a presidential campaign year, conservative and liberal justices who heard oral arguments on Wednesday morning seemed to find no strong objection to that section of the law, which also allows police to stop and arrest anyone they reasonably believe is in the country illegally.

Gov. Jan Brewer's issued a statement this morning regarding SB1070 hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court:

"Today, more than two years after I signed SB1070 into law, the State of Arizona had its opportunity to defend this measure before the United States Supreme Court. Many people never gave us a chance to get this far, and it is only due to the continuing support and encouragement of the American people that it was possible.

"Of course, we likely will not know the Court's decision for weeks. But I am filled with optimism -- the kind that comes with knowing that Arizona's cause is just and its course is true.

"On the day I signed SB1070, I called it 'another tool for our state to use as we work to solve a crisis we did not create and the federal government has refused to fix.'

Those words still hold true -- as I was reminded last week when I returned to the border to visit law enforcement and ranchers who live and work in southeastern Arizona.

"Their message: The job of securing the border is not done, not so long as drugs and humans continue to be smuggled north in large numbers at the direction of violent cartels and armed gangs.

As Governor, I have a duty to uphold the Constitution and a responsibility to protect the people of Arizona. With SB1070, I am confident we can do both." 

 ScotusBlog provides an excellent analysis of today's Supreme Court proceedings.

Polling  the for Arizona's immigration law, SB 1070, shows that public support for the law has grown since it's passage in 2010, with  65 to 68 percent of Americans supportive and 27 to 31 percent opposed. Two years ago, that split was 50-31 according to both Quinnipiac and Fox polling. (Source- Washington Post)