“Not So Fast Missy”: How Jan Brewer and Many Others Got The Supreme Court’s Immigration Ruling Wrong
“The heart of Senate Bill 1070 has been proven to be constitutional. Arizona’s and every other state’s inherent authority to protect and defend its people has been upheld.”
There’s just one problem: The high court did not find any provision of Arizona’s law to be constitutional—it did not “uphold” any part of the law. The distinction here is a technical legal one, and plenty of reporters and media outlets got it wrong. (My first tweet about the ruling was wrong. Politico, the Los Angeles Times*, and PBS’ Newshour also initially misreported the ruling.) Other supporters of the law, including Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (who is a lawyer) also referred to part of the law being “upheld.”
Here’s what the Supreme Court actually did on Monday. The justices decided that the lower court that prevented SB 1070 from taking effect was mostly correct—because most of the law’s provisions were likely unconstitutional. The Supreme Court declined to block the “papers, please” provision of the law—which Brewer refers to as its “heart”—that requires local authorities to check the immigration status of anyone they arrest. But the high court did not find the controversial provision constitutional, and so it was not “upheld.” Instead, the high court deferred judgment on the matter. Saying that part of the law was “upheld” incorrectly implies that the court decided the “papers, please” provision was constitutional. The justices were actually decidedly agnostic on that point.
“The majority said it didn’t know enough about how the law would work in practice to rule decisively. Because the law has never gone into effect, it just wasn’t clear whether the law would conflict with federal policy.” says Adam Winkler, a professor at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law who wrote a column for the Daily Beast noting that many media outlets got the distinction wrong. “The court said to Arizona there’s a right way and a wrong way to apply this law and we’re watching you.”
Although it’s anyone’s guess how the court might ultimately rule on the “papers, please” provision, Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion gives very specific guidance on how that part of the law should be enforced. That suggests that in the future, the court could very well find the provision unconstitutional—meaning that Brewer’s celebration was beyond premature.
“They absolutely left open the possiblity of future challenges,” says Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel at the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center. “We achieved victory on three out of the four provisions [Monday], and I think it’s going to be a delayed victory on the fourth.”
By: Adam Serwer, Mother Jones, June 26, 2012
You thought the healthcare case created a storm. Well you haven’t seen anything yet. Next week the Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the constitutionality of SB 1070, the Arizona immigration law. Any case that involves race creates political fireworks.
The Arizona law is a constitutional nightmare.
One part of the law allows the police to hold people arrested indefinitely until their immigration status is verified. What it means is that American citizens who look like illegal immigrants because they have brown skin and who are suspected of a crime can be held indefinitely without trial. This part of the law violates the due process clause in the Fifth Amendment and the equal protection clause in the 14th Amendment. SB 1070 flushes fundamental American civil liberties down the toilet.
The Arizona law states that “the intent of the law is attrition through enforcement to deter the unlawful entry and presence of illegal aliens.” Well, you have a constitutional problem right there. Article I, Section 8 the Constitution clearly gives Congress, not the states the power “to establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization.”
The state says it had to act since the feds haven’t acted. There are several problems with this argument.
The reason that the founders gave Congress the power to regulate immigration is that there would be chaos if each of the 50 states did the same thing and created their own immigration policies.
For another thing, the logic of the Arizona argument is the same thing as saying that it or any other state could declare war against another country if Congress didn’t. Article 1, Section 8 not only gives Congress the power to set rules of naturalization, it also gives it the power to declare war. And why not let the states instead of Congress have the Article I power to coin money. Of course that would lead to economic disaster. I don’t know about you but I don’t have the math skills to figure out the exchange rate for financial transactions between Maryland and Virginia.
Finally, the state’s argument that the feds are not acting is just wrong. Illegal immigration has slowed steadily in the last few years. There has been a large increase in the number of Border Patrol agents stationed on the Mexican border. And the Obama administration has deported record numbers of illegal immigrants convicted of crimes. But supporters of SB 1070 just want to overlook the facts so they can sustain their prejudices.
George W. Bush and Barack Obama proposed a solution to the problem that doesn’t even violate the Constitution. These presidential proposals would intensify enforcement of immigration efforts at the Mexican border, penalize employers who hire undocumented workers, and create a path to citizenship for people in the U.S illegally. Congress failed to act on either of the proposed laws. Even though the two presidential proposals are similar, several GOP senators who supported the Bush proposal now oppose the Obama bill. Go figure.
After the court issues rules on the Arizona law in June, the justices should disperse as quickly as possible because whatever they do, there will be a lot of very unhappy people out there.
By: Brad Bannon, Washington Whispers, U. s. News and World Report, April 19, 2012