Patterico's Pontifications


News Reports: Supreme Court Looks Ready to Uphold Most of Arizona Immigration Law

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:31 pm

Adam Liptak at the New York Times: Justices Seem Sympathetic to Central Part of Arizona Law.

Justices across the ideological spectrum appeared inclined on Wednesday to uphold a controversial part of Arizona’s aggressive 2010 immigration law, based on their questions at a Supreme Court argument.

“You can see it’s not selling very well,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a member of the court’s liberal wing and its first Hispanic justice, told Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., referring to a central part of his argument against the measure.

David Savage at the L.A. Times:

The Supreme Court justices, hearing arguments Wednesday over Arizona’s tough immigration law, suggested they were inclined to uphold parts of the state’s law but may block other parts.

The Obama administration lawyer who wanted the entire law struck down ran into skeptical questions from most of the justices, who said they saw no problem with requiring police officers to check the immigration status of people who are stopped.

But the justices also said they were troubled by parts of the Arizona law that made it a state crime for illegal immigrants to not carry documents or seek work. The stop-and-arrest provision has been the most contested part of the law.

Inside, court members voiced skepticism about parts of the Arizona law, including penalties on illegal immigrants who seek jobs. Still, the justices made clear they see states as having a role to play in addressing the presence of what the government has estimated is 11.5 million unauthorized aliens in the U.S.

“What does sovereignty mean if it does not include the ability to defend your borders?” Justice Antonin Scalia said during the 80-minute session, which ran 20 minutes beyond its scheduled time.

The transcript of the oral argument is here. I have not had time to read it.

21 Responses to “News Reports: Supreme Court Looks Ready to Uphold Most of Arizona Immigration Law”

  1. But the justices also said they were troubled by parts of the Arizona law that made it a state crime for illegal immigrants to not carry documents or seek work.

    Now, there’s a well-constructed sentence. Probably why he writes for the times.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  2. Courts defer to strong and popular presidents. Obama got a lot of deference in 2009, not so much now.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  3. Powerline nails it when they say:

    Justice Sotomayor was commenting here on an extraordinary aspect of the Obama administration’s position, to the effect that it is OK if individual Arizona law enforcement officers decide to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, but if the state directs them all to cooperate, it is somehow unconstitutional. The Obama administration literally argued that for a state to engage in “systematic cooperation” with the federal government on immigration is unlawful.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  4. It’s not fun to be Solicitor General for the Obama Administration.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  5. So how come Kagan, the Derrick Bell fan, decided to recuse on this one?

    gary gulrud (d88477)

  6. You know what is so stupid about this?

    It is ILLEGAL for LEGAL immigrants not to carry proof of their immigration status with them at all times.

    Why are we required by law to carry our Green Cards if law enforcement are not allowed to ask to see them?

    “”What The Law Says

    Section 264 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) states, “Every alien in the United States . . . shall be issued a certificate of alien registration or an alien registration receipt card in such form and manner and at such time as shall be prescribed under regulations . . .” It also says, “Every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him . . .. Any alien who fails to comply with [these provisions] shall be guilty of a misdemeanor…” The specific requirements and procedures for applying to renew an expiring green card are contained in the Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] at 8 CFR section 264.5.””

    Not posting a link to the page at because the URL thingy contains who I am!

    ISTE (91676e)

  7. Cue Obama arguing, “How dare the Court not overturn the laws passed by those misguided Arizona racists!” After which he heads to the White House doctor to deal with having sprained his jaw by talking out of both sides of his mouth.

    M. Scott Eiland (003254)

  8. It would be unprecedented for the Court to overturn a law passed by strong majorities.

    JD (abb177)

  9. Now, there’s a well-constructed sentence. Probably why he writes for the timesComment by Kevin M — 4/25/2012 @ 8:33 pm

    Yeah. I didn’t understand what he meant until I read the third quote.

    aunursa (c6d6d2)

  10. Comment by aunursa — 4/26/2012 @ 6:27 am

    Me neither.

    Sarahw (b0e533)

  11. made it a state crime for illegal immigrants to not carry documents

    Does the law make it a crime for any immigrants not to carry identification documents? Or just illegal immigrants?

    Because from the way it sounds, illegal immigrants would be in violation for not carrying documents that they don’t have … but legal immigrants wouldn’t be in violation for not carrying documents that they do have.

    aunursa (c6d6d2)

  12. Maybe the LA Times writer needs to take a course in English as a Second Language.

    Bored Lawyer (c8f13b)

  13. I hope they don’t muddle and uphold only part of the law. Having said the Pew reports that net migration from Mexico is now effectively less than zero, so…

    Alex (15f526)

  14. _____________________________________________

    The Obama administration literally argued that for a state to engage in “systematic cooperation” with the federal government on immigration is unlawful.

    That’s one of innumerable examples of just how corrupt and twisted — in so many ways — a society can become when people like Obama and Eric Holder are running things. I used to say — but with some sarcasm and a sense of hyperbole — that layers of leftism were converting this nation into a “banana republic.” I realize that’s actually far less hyperbolic or sarcastic than I once believed it to be.

    Mark (411533)

  15. I certainly hope this law is upheld. What’s more, I hope this changes:

    But the justices also said they were troubled by parts of the Arizona law that made it a state crime for illegal immigrants to . . . seek work.

    I understand the laws passed by Congress only penalize employers for hiring illegal aliens, but as far as I’m concerned that makes them complicit in the criminal government conspiracy to encourage illegal immigration.

    Essentially, they’re making employers convenient scapegoats for their unwillingness to combat illegal immigration. It’s true, as an employer I’m required to establish a new hire’s identity and eligibility to legally work (I can’t ask until after I’ve hired the person). But I’m legally barred from going beyond the minimum required to do so. I can’t tell the prospective employee what documents to bring in. And I have to accept whatever combination of documents the prospective employee chooses to give me as long as they appear valid, no matter what suspicions they may give me. Recall Meg Whitman and her housekeeper. She did what she was required to do. It would have been illegal for her to have done more. It’s a system designed to support the convenient and false charge of “hypocrisy” when critics of illegal immigration are found to have hired illegal immigrants, even though those critics only did so because the legal regime essentially requires that they do.

    Seriously, if I get suspicious about a prospective new hire’s employment status and go beyond the legal minimums, I can be sued. By the government no less for illegal “discrimination.”

    Justice Department sues Arizona school system

    I don’t believe I’ve worded it too strongly by calling it a criminal government conspiracy. Illegal immigration isn’t normally a victimless crime as most commit partial identity theft. A US citizen can get in trouble with the IRS when an illegal alien uses their social security number (but the IRS will protect the illegal alien; they won’t tell you who is using your SSN as all they care about is getting the blood money). Your child can grow up and find out his or her credit is already ruined because in illegal alien is using their SSN (who runs credit checks on their 5 yo to see if they even have a credit history let alone find out if it’s bad).

    The government tries to blame illegal immigration on employers and their demand for cheap labor. Yet the won’t enforce the borders, won’t pursue identity thieves, and concoct a legal scheme where the one and only person in the employment relationship who knows with an absolute certainty their presence in this country is illegal, the illegal alien, suffers no penalty for illegally working in this country. If the SSA eventually tells me the individual’s name doesn’t match the SSN I was given, that person can wander down the road and take another job and continue working here with no worries about the law catching up with them whatsoever. Because there is no such law.

    Chief Justice Roberts is right; they don’t want to know who is in this country illegally. They certainly don’t want to do anything about it. And despite the fact they want to blame me as an employer for somehow not filling the gap created by their malfeasance, misfeasance, and nonfeasance, they’ll sue me out of business if I try to do something about it.

    Steve (8ab96a)

  16. Steve, the Supremes in their last session, upheld AZ’s law about penalizing employers who hire “undocumented” workers. Those penalties can include loss of their business license, and jail time for multiple offenses.
    This prior decision in AZ’s favor is why many observers including yours’ truly, thought that the Administration was barking up the wrong Joshua Tree with this persecution of AZ over doing the Feds job for them.
    Holder & Co. are going to look pretty stupid (I know that’s a low bar) when the decision comes down, and other states jump on the enforcement bandwagon.

    AD-RtR-OS! (b8ab92)

  17. Because there is no such law.

    See: Simpson-Mazzoli.
    There is a law, Congress just has refused to fund enforcement of it, because they don’t want to antagonize campaign contributors.

    AD-RtR-OS! (b8ab92)

  18. Simpson-Mazzoli? As far as I know, it makes it illegal for an employer to hire an illegal alien without taking sufficient measures to ascertain the employees legal status.

    If it makes it illegal for an illegal alien to accept employment after fraudulently misrepresenting their legal status, I’d like to see a citation. Because as far as I’m aware, there’s no law against what the illegal alien is doing (which is a bizarre sentence to have to write). As an employer, I’m required to go so far and only so far to determine employment status. When you get right down to it, the people charged with enforcing the border but shirking their responsibilities require me to acquire a thin veneer of plausible deniability. If I go further I can be sued for “profiling,” “discrimination,” what have you.

    I’m fairly certain I’ve never hired anyone based upon any false documents that they’ve given me. But the applicants are the only ones who know their citizenship or immigration status with 100% certainty. And they’re the ones the law protects.

    Steve (8ab96a)

  19. I keep waiting for Brewer to refer to the “unelected” justices…

    Amphipolis (e01538)

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