Court strikes down parts of Ariz. immigration law

As I run out of here to go to Rotary, I toss this up for discussion:

Court rejects parts of Arizona immigration law

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected much of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, but upheld other provisions, giving a partial victory to the Obama administration.

The court ruled that Arizona cannot make it a misdemeanor for immigrants to fail to carry identification that says whether they are in the United States legally; cannot make it a crime for undocumented immigrants to apply for a job; and cannot arrest someone based solely on the suspicion that the person is in this country illegally.

However, the court let stand the part of the law that requires police to check the immigration status of anyone they detain, if there is “reasonable suspicion” that the person is unlawfully in the United States. Even there, though, the justices said the provision could be subject to additional legal challenges. The court said it was “improper” for the federal government to block the provision before state courts have a chance to interpret it and without determining whether it conflicts with federal immigration law in practice….

The court also said the biggie — a ruling on Obamacare — is coming up Thursday…

38 thoughts on “Court strikes down parts of Ariz. immigration law

  1. `Kathryn Braun Fenner

    “The court said it was “improper” for the federal government to block the provision before state courts have a chance to interpret it and without determining whether it conflicts with federal immigration law in practice….”

    I guess they are saying it’s not facially invalid, and otherwise not ripe for adjudication by the Supremes. You do have to have PC to stop someone, so…I guess we all will have to start carrying our passports….

  2. Bryan Caskey

    Did you read the opinion? You don’t need to carry your passport. The law itself states:

    “First, a detainee is presumed not to be an alien unlawfully present in the United States if he or she provides a valid Arizona driver’s license or similar identification.”

    So there you go.

    The real question is what constitutes a “reasonable” attempt to verify someone’s immigration status. This necessarily depends on the nature of why they were stopped. The court contrasted being stopped for jaywalking and being stopped for a DUI as having two different applications.

    Long story short, SCOTUS wasn’t going to simply assume that the state law facially conflicted with federal law.(“So far as statutes fairly may be construed in such a way as to avoid doubtful constitutional questions they should be so construed; and it is to be presumed that state laws will be construed in that way by the state courts”

    Also for you lawgeeks, the entire court (even the “Wise Latina” and Ginsburg) agreed with this analysis.

    I’ll bet you a Krispy Kreme doughnut that we see an “as-applied” challenge, though.

  3. `Kathryn Braun Fenner

    but everyone doesn’t have a driver’s license….I assume that non-Hispanic looking Causasians, Asians, and African Americans are probably not going to get carded, either, but who knows?

    Maybe the AZ officers of the law will be smart and card everyone they stop. Wonder how popular that will be.

    Apparently the visa nightmare is real even for plenty of Europeans [gasp], and if they overstay, say, a student visa, it can be well nigh impossible to come back in.

  4. Brad

    Did anyone see Larry Grooms’ odd, off-base reaction to the ruling?

    It follows…

    June 25, 2012 (COLUMBIA, S.C.) – Following today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling concerning Arizona’s illegal immigration law, below are comments from South Carolina State Senator Larry Grooms. Senator Grooms was primary sponsor of Act 69 of 2011, South Carolina’s immigration reform legislation.

    “Tomorrow folks will have a better understanding of how the ruling affects South Carolina. But today some things are clear. When it comes to addressing the scourge of illegal immigration, Washington has utterly failed us. Now it seems the D.C. politicians have decided to join the fight. Unfortunately, many of them are fighting for illegals.”

    (Senator Grooms represents District 37, which includes parts of Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester and Colleton counties. He is Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.)


  5. Silence

    I’m tired of the “everyone doesn’t have a driver’s license” schtick. How do you open a bank account, apply for a job (or government services) or do anything else without proper ID? Even folks who don’t drive can get an ID, and I think it’s free or maybe $5.00.

  6. bud

    The Republicans have manufactured a voter fraud problem that just does not exist so they can “purge” a few voters who consistently vote Democrat. Florida has mastered this voter suppression scheme and will likely steal those electoral votes come November. And that’s what’s really at the heart of the Fast and Furious circus being played out by the Isa ringleader. AG Holder is trying to fight back against this voter suppression and the only course of action available to the Republicans is to suppress Holder. If successful democracy will be set back 50 years in this country as people of color are prevented from voting.

  7. `Kathryn Braun Fenner

    @Silence–we do not have a national ID requirement. No one need carry proof of ID–indeed, I do not when I am walking the dog, say–perhaps I should have a dog tag made for me, but I don’t carry ID. A lot of women’s clothing does not have pockets, so many women do not carry their wallet unless they are also carrying their purse. Not going to be a problem for gray-haired, northern European ancestry women in University Hill, so why should it be a problem for Hispanics?

    Do we want to repeal the constitutional protections against search and seizure?

  8. Phillip

    The most amazing thing about yesterday’s pair of SCOTUS rulings, to me? That for Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito, it’s not enough to grant judges the individual latitude to decide if a juvenile can and should be sentenced to life without parole, but that the right of a state to mandate life sentences, with NO judicial discretion on a case-by-case basis, must be preserved.

  9. Doug Ross


    Aren’t we talking about traffic stops in Arizona? Do you think it should be reasonable to expect a driver to produce a drivers license?

  10. Bryan Caskey

    Y’all are way off topic. Especially you, bud. Focus.

    2B only applies when you’re ALREADY legally detained. A police officer can’t stop you for no reason.

    Once again, you have to ALREADY be breaking the law for 2B to apply.

    If you break the law and are detained by law enforcement, they have the right to make a “reasonable attempt” to verify your immigration status.

    They can’t just randomly stop you. Obama’s famous example of someone being stopped while “going to get ice cream” is just a misstatement of the law. Going to get ice cream isn’t against the law. Yet.

  11. Steven Davis II

    @Kathryn – So you don’t carry an ID on you when you’re out walking the dog. What if you had a medical emergency of some sort, do you just prefer they transport you to the hospital as Jane Doe?

    @Silence – Better yet, how do you get a welfare check or food stamps without proof if identification?

    I think we should go back to landowners only have the right to vote.

  12. `Kathryn Braun Fenner

    Not necessarily a traffic stop–could be a loitering stop, a curfew violation stop, suspicion of having committed any number of crimes besides traffic stops-burglary? shoplifting? Reasonable suspicion….

  13. Brad

    The hard part of such a law is enforcing it. I mean, YOU try getting SC cops to properly pronounce “Deine Papieren, bitte!”

  14. Silence

    @ Brad – In the case of a Politzei stop, they would use the formal version of the second person pronoun “you” which is “Sie” and so the possessive would be “Seine” and since Papiere ist plural it would be “Seine Papiere, bitte” I think since the pronoun and noun shoudl agree. However, an identification document is an “Ausweis” which is masc. so they should properly ask you for “Seinen Ausweis, bitte.” I would think. It’s been so long that my German is “aus der Übung.”

  15. Silence

    if I was at home, I’d link to the Youtube video of the scene in “Life of Brian”:

    Centurion: What’s this, then? “Romanes eunt domus”? People called Romanes, they go, the house?
    Brian: It says, “Romans go home. ”
    Centurion: No it doesn’t ! What’s the latin for “Roman”? Come on, come on !
    Brian: Er, “Romanus” !
    Centurion: Vocative plural of “Romanus” is?
    Brian: Er, er, “Romani” !
    Centurion: [Writes “Romani” over Brian’s graffiti] “Eunt”? What is “eunt”? Conjugate the verb, “to go” !
    Brian: Er, “Ire”. Er, “eo”, “is”, “it”, “imus”, “itis”, “eunt”.
    Centurion: So, “eunt” is…?
    Brian: Third person plural present indicative, “they go”.
    Centurion: But, “Romans, go home” is an order. So you must use…?
    [He twists Brian’s ear]
    Brian: Aaagh ! The imperative !
    Centurion: Which is…?
    Brian: Aaaagh ! Er, er, “i” !
    Centurion: How many Romans?
    Brian: Aaaaagh ! Plural, plural, er, “ite” !
    Centurion: [Writes “ite”] “Domus”? Nominative? “Go home” is motion towards, isn’t it?
    Brian: Dative !
    [the Centurion holds a sword to his throat]
    Brian: Aaagh ! Not the dative, not the dative ! Er, er, accusative, “Domum” !
    Centurion: But “Domus” takes the locative, which is…?
    Brian: Er, “Domum” !
    Centurion: [Writes “Domum”] Understand? Now, write it out a hundred times.
    Brian: Yes sir. Thank you, sir. Hail Caesar, sir.
    Centurion: Hail Caesar ! And if it’s not done by sunrise, I’ll cut your balls off.

  16. `Kathryn Braun Fenner

    @Silence–Sein(e) is “his or its”–you mean “Ihre”….We must have a Stammtisch.

  17. Mark Stewart

    Phillip’s point was dead on. It was disturbing to see that Roberts would fall that way.

  18. Mark Stewart

    Tomorrow will be interesting. If the chief justice was willing to say that the federal government (and the states, too) has the right to mandate life terms without the possibility of parole for minors, then he ought to rule that the government has the right to mandate healthcare coverage for adults.

  19. Brad

    I’m not sure that follows. I mean, I certainly hope the court rules that way. But I’m not sure one thing you cite leads to the other. The power of the state to punish crimes is as old and established as government itself, complicated in this country only by our stricture against “cruel and unusual” punishment (and other constitutional limitations on prosecutorial power). As long as those strictures aren’t violated, it follows that the state can choose to impose such punishments.

    But mandating insurance coverage is less-traveled ground. I fully believe it can and should be done, but it’s hardly the done deal that the life-sentences thing is. There is precedent in this country — take SC’s mandate to buy car insurance — but it’s not quite the fully established thing that punishing crimes is.

  20. Silence

    @ Mark Stewart – I thought the court ruled against mandatory life sentences for minors? Didn’t the SCOTUS ruling basically just free up state judges to impose whatever sentence they think the crime deserved, up to and including life?

    @ Brad – Isn’t there a different between a state issued mandate and a federal one? Also, typically only car owners are mandated to buy car insurance, not every swinging Richard.

    In fact, in SC you can pay $550 to the Department of Public Safety and drive around without insurance all you like! Of course you’d be fully liable in an accident, but if I were judgement-proof (read: broke-as-a-joke) I’d go naked without the insurance.

  21. Silence

    @ Brad – I’m not trying to be jejeune and I don’t dispute that having health insurance is a good idea. I’m just disputing the constitutionality of a federal mandate to purchase it. I guess I buy the broccoli arguement.

  22. "Mark Stewart

    The court did rule in favor of abolishing mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole for minors.

    This was only about the mandatory requirement, not whether judges could still individually sentance a minor to a life sentence without the possibility of parole – and minors have always been treated as special cases when falling under the cruel and unusual test. Roberts voted that the “state” could mandate blanket sentences on all minors. That was what struck me; even more that it was the most “conservative” of the judges who would vote to remove judicial discretion – especially in relation to minors.

    Roberts is clearly going to be one of the deciding votes on the healthcare law. So to me it would seem to be a mental contortion to say that the state can mandate no possibility of parole as a blanket sentence on minors, and then turn around and rule the “state” cannot compel adults to purchase healthcare insurance. I understand these are very different categories, but I would argue the logic ought to be the same. To me, those justices who voted to strike down mandatory life sentences for minors did so on the basis of the practice being cruel and unusual punishment. It’s the reasoning of those who disagreed that caught me. I KNOW the other three won’t have any trouble applying condradictory arguments; it is Roberts who seems to me to have signaled his thinking on tomorrow’s case.

  23. Bryan Caskey

    Mark, I think you’re reading too much into the mandatory life sentence ruling.

    All I’m going to say on the ACA is that there isn’t an exception in the Constitution for “good ideas”.

  24. Doug Ross


    “It doesn’t violate anything in the Constitution…”

    So then what would a Supreme Court judgement against Obamacare signify then???

  25. "Mark Stewart

    I kind of thought the Constitution was a document that provides a framework for good American ideas that move our country forward? I don’t think of it as a promoter of bad ideas.

  26. Silence

    @”Mark S – I don’t make the same logical connection that you do between the Roberts opinion and the constitutionality of health care. One is a civil rights issue – that of a state applying cruel and unusual punishment – without consideration for the age or mental state of the offender. The other is more an interpretation of the limits on the power of the federal government under the commerce clause, I think.

  27. Silence

    @ Brad – Except there’s no legal authority in the US Constitution for a health insurance mandate. In fact, the 10th amendment would seem to prohibit a national mandate. As I read the 1st amendment – forcing people join an insurance pool would violate freedom of assembly -or not to assemble at all.
    Anyways, as I understand it (disclaimer: Silence is NOT a lawyer) all federal law must originate with the US Constitution.

  28. Mark Stewart

    I’m only saying that a mandate is a mandate – and Roberts has put himself on the side of the correctness of government mandates when they are pillars of social order.

    I think Roberts choked on the Broccoli argument. This juducial review has too great of import to the country for the flippancy shown by Scalia.

  29. `Kathryn Braun Fenner

    The federal government is a government of enumerated powers. The mandating of life sentences was likely contested under the ban on cruel and unusual punishments, the insurance mandate would easily fall under the Commerce Clause as it was interpreted up until maybe a few years ago.

    I don’t see the freedom of assembly argument, Silence, and I was the top Con Law student my year at Emory, fwiw.

  30. Silence

    ‘Kathryn – I will defer to your brilliant legal mind, and as I am not a legal scholar I would like some further explanation.

    Wouldn’t the right to assemble – say the right to join the Boy Scouts or the AARP also extend to choosing to NOT join the Boy Scouts, a credit union or the AARP? In any case, you are making a choice to voluntarily join or not to join an organized club or society – which is essentially what an insurance company is? A mutual organization or a friendly society?

    The “broccoli” arguement is reductio ad absurdum, of course, but how is this any different than the federal government telling you: “We don’t care which club you join, the FOE, KofC, BPoE or Lions, but you have to join one of them.” So I ask, how is it any different?

  31. `Kathryn Braun Fenner

    It’s a right to peaceably assemble. You could possibly find a penumbral right NOT to assemble, but I don’t know of any precedent (not that precedent seems to bother several of the current Supremes). Thing is, you aren’t actually assembling when you buy health insurance. I don’t belong to Blue Cross Blue Shield–although I used to belong to Northwestern Mutual.

    The mandate is saying,”If you do not obtain health coverage, you will be treated inefficiently at an ER or not receive needed health care, either of which is a burden on interstate commerce–for example, companies are less likely to be able to hire people if health costs are through the roof, and one big cause is uninsured people using the ER. Also, people who are uninsured and do incur health costs may be unable to pay said costs without losing their homes, etc. When people lose their homes, it drives down property values, etc. So we will require you to ensure that you are not a freeloader and that the orderly flow of interstate commerce continues, so pony up.’

    Or something like that.

  32. `Kathryn Braun Fenner

    The Founding Fathers, who inspire such hero worship by the Right, and others, clearly were addressing the right to meet up, to discuss politics, say. Think about why that clause is there.

  33. Doug Ross

    I’d love to see the argument that federally mandatory insurance is legal when at the same time there are exceptions based solely on a person’s religious beliefs. How can you protect one religion from enforcement but exclude others?

  34. Silence

    @’K – It would seem that any right creates a choice, since a right isn’t an obligation (to assemble, to own a gun, abort fetii, etc.)

    I’m playing devil’s advocate, certainly. The individual mandate will have no affect on my choice to maintain health insurance, I can’t envision a scenario where my family is better off without it.

    Of course, what about if I was rich. Like building$ on campu$ named after me rich – Darla Moore kind$ of money. I could afford to pay for any and all healthcare I would possibly need out of petty ca$h. Would I still need to buy insurance, so as not to hinder “interstate commerce”?

    Let’s move a step beyond, and I’m still playing devils advocate here: For the premises of this discussion, I agree that the costs of treating the uninsured in the ER drives up healthcare costs. So we put everyone in the pool, force people who previously couldn’t get coverage into the system – we’ll assume correctly that on the whole these are the folks who will cost the company more than they pay in premiums, hence their current inability to get coverage. These folks will continue to push costs up, correct?

    Next, we will require the uninsured by choice to get coverage. These are folks who are generally healthy, young and are playing the odds – that they won’t get sick. These are the folks that we really need in the system to subsidize the sicker folks, right? Correct. Of course some of them will get sick, but on net, this group is receiving less in benefits than they pay.

    So now everyone is in the pool – and we’ve got a large new crop of healthy people and a hopefully smaller new crop of sick peeps in the system, right? How will this help to control costs? If there’s more money awash in the system – things will get increasingly expensive. We’ve increased the supply of money chasing healthcare AND increased the aggregate demand by giving everyone access, actually, both of which are factors that lead to inflation.

    So of course, the new, “big pool” model will eventually fail, just like the current model is failing a substantial segment of the population. Costs will keep climbing, insurers & providers won’t be able to keep rates low, and we’ll have another crisis.

    The next logical step is, of course, single payer. No longer playing devil’s advocate, I think that this is the ultimate goal of the Dems, even though it may be decades away.

    Personally, I’d like to see us go back to the days of individuals paying reasonable fees for services – cash on the barrelhead. I know that’s a pipe dream, though, there’s too much money sloshing around in the system already.

    I probably should have proofread this before I hit submit, b/c it went a little long like my other comments recently.

  35. David

    Exception to what? Why would it need an exception? It doesn’t violate anything in the Constitution…

    And it’s not before the Supreme Court to decide exactly that? Didn’t you just write a post lamenting how skepticism of our government has turned into nasty mistrust? And now you are implying what — that since the constitutionality of the PPACA is so blatantly obvious that regardless of the outcome today this was just the ruse of some men with a sinister agenda?

    How cynical can you be?

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