Supreme Court Appears Willing to Uphold Arizona Immigration Law

Earlier today the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Arizona v. United States, the case arising from Arizona’s controversial immigration crackdown S.B. 1070. Judging by what I saw in the courtroom, a majority of the justices appeared willing to take Arizona’s side.

At issue is whether federal immigration law preempts four of S.B. 1070‘s provisions, including Section 2(B), the controversial requirement that state law enforcement officials make a “reasonable attempt” to determine the immigration status of any person they encounter during “any lawful stop, detention, or arrest” if those officials have a “reasonable suspicion” that the person may be in the country illegally.

The federal government argues that these provisions undermine and conflict with the comprehensive immigration regulations established by Congress, and that Arizona’s actions will force the federal government to waste scarce resources on behalf of state priorities, rather than federal ones.

Justice Antonin Scalia quickly emerged as the biggest skeptic of the federal government’s position. Not only did Scalia repeatedly stress his view that the Constitution allows each state “to close its borders to people who have no right to be there,” he dismissed Solicitor General Donald Verrilli’s worry that Arizona’s immigration crackdown will put a strain on U.S. foreign relations. “We have to enforce our laws in a manner that will please Mexico,” Scalia snapped. “Is that what you're saying?”

Chief Justice John Roberts also seemed unwilling to buy many of Verrilli’s core arguments, including the solicitor general’s claim that S.B. 1070 will force the federal government’s hand when it comes to immigration prosecutions. “You say that the Federal Government has to have control over who to prosecute,” Roberts told Verrilli, “but I don't see how Section 2(B) says anything about that at all. All it does is notify the Federal Government, here's someone who is here illegally, here's someone who is removable. The discretion to prosecute for Federal immigration offenses rests entirely with the Attorney General.”

The biggest hurdle for the government will to be to attract one or more of the Court’s five right-leaning justices (Justice Elena Kagan is recused). With Roberts seemingly out of the running, the next, and perhaps most obvious candidate is Justice Anthony Kennedy, who regularly sides with the liberal bloc. Yet Kennedy also subjected the solicitor general to a thorough interrogation this morning. Moreover, Kennedy’s well-known support for federalism principles came to the forefront when asked the solicitor general if “social disruption, economic disruption” stemming from a “flood of immigrants” would allow Arizona or other states “to enact laws to correct this problem?” It seemed clear that Kennedy thinks the states do possess the authority "to correct" such a problem.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, meanwhile, promptly established herself as the federal government’s strongest ally in the case. But that alliance didn’t stop her from repeatedly chastising the solicitor general when he stumbled during the oral argument. “General, I'm terribly confused by your answer,” she declared at one point. “I don't know that you're focusing in on what I believe my colleagues are trying to get to.” Several minutes later, Sotomayor was even blunter, telling Verrilli that his argument wasn’t “selling very well.” “Why don’t you try to come up with something else?” she instructed.

Unfortunately for the federal government, it may now be too late for that.

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  • NeonCat||

    Solicitors General are addressed as General? I did not know that. Surgeons General are addressed as "Doctor", I believe.

  • ||

    "I'm a doctor, not an escalator!"

  • ||

    "I will allow only your touch."

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Stop pluralizing it. It just sounds weird that way. It should be surgeon general, or general of surgeons. Why the fuck do we need generals for these things?

  • David Emami||

    "The plural of surgeon general is surgeons general. The past tense of surgeons general is surgeonsed general."

  • TELLMOFF||

    Police can detain people just like anyone else can. They can't force people to be detained. That is an arrest that requires evidence of committing a crime that the police actually observed.

    Don't expect the police to act within their lawful authority.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Fuck the supreme court.

  • Alice Bowie||

    Let's vote for Romney so that he can appoint more supreme court justices of the like of Sammy Alito.

    I mean what's more important?
    A. Lower Taxes
    B. Freedom and Justice

    The answer in this forum is (A).

    You see, if you're white, professional courtesy, immunity from prosecution over shooting blacks (that are not members of law enforcement), and lower taxes so one has more money to defend ones-self in the event one slips thru the cracks is guess makes these types of rulings livable.

  • Jordan||

    Prove it. And go fuck yourself.

  • Alice Bowie||

    George Zimmerman
    and the following link right here on Craigslist

    http://reason.com/blog/2012/04.....nt_2997081

  • Jordan||

    Just saying "George Zimmerman" is not an answer to your dumbass assertion. Let me quote it for you since you already forgot:

    "The answer in this forum is (A)."

  • Alice Bowie||

    I think we are on the same page and actually agree Jordan. Don't know what u r pissed off about.

  • Jordan||

    No, we're not. I'm pissed because you're employing your usual bullshit tactic of strawmanning your opponents as racists. And I'm asking you to backup your bullshit assertion that people here value lower taxes more than civil liberties.

  • Alice Bowie||

    Everybody is racist Jordan.

    There are your traditional white-racist that generally hate colored people.

    There are your neo-white racist, who hate hate colored people that presume that they are racist.

    There are foreign non-white racist, who feel that if they align with whites, they'll be A-OK...and they are right.

    And of course, there are the black/latino racist, who've had great role models over the last 400 years, or so.

  • Jordan||

    No evidence, as usual.

  • Alice Bowie||

    You are right Jordan. There's no racism. It's all in my head and completely make believe.

    Us blacks/latinos a just a bunch of sensitive pussies that need to shut up and go back to cuba and africa.

  • Jordan||

    Strawmanning as usual. Still waiting for that evidence that we value lower taxes more than civil liberties here.

  • Alice Bowie||

    There is no way I can prove it.

  • Marshall Gill||

    Jordan, don't bother. Alice is an imbecile. How in the fuck is "liberty" different than "low taxes"? It isn't. Alice obviously believes in the "liberty" to steal from the wealthy in the form of taxes. It's all about freedom, don't cha know? Not the freedom to keep what you earn but the "freedom" of losers to claim what you rightly earned, because of their worthlessness.

    Basically the whole, not stealing=giving and not giving=stealing thingy.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    I wouldn't hold my breath were I you.

  • ||

    George Zimmerman isn't white you fucking retard.

  • Alice Bowie||

    He was acting as a police office. That makes him honorary White.

  • ||

    That is, quite possibly, the stupidest thing I have ever read.

    That is even more retarded than some of the shit that Tony says and he's a fucking sock puppet.

  • Tman||

    I would say the same if I had any idea what the fuck she is talking about.

  • widget||

    Alice,

    ...and lower taxes so one has more money to defend ones-self...

    Lowering taxes leave more money for someone to defend himself. Or at least put a down-payment on the defense.

  • IceTrey||

    If you have B, A doesn't even exist.

  • Jordan||

    So why did Kagan recuse herself from this, but not the Obamacare case?

  • Alice Bowie||

    If the supreme court rules that the STATE can trump the FEDs in an effort to racially profile will they at least allow the STATES to trump the FEDs on Weed ?

  • Drake||

    I'll bite. So what federal law is the Arizona supposedly "trumping" (I assume you mean taking precedence over)?

  • Cyto||

    "General, I'm terribly confused by your answer," she declared at one point. "I don't know that you're focusing in on what I believe my colleagues are trying to get to." Several minutes later, Sotomayor was even blunter, telling Verrilli that his argument wasn't "selling very well." "Why don't you try to come up with something else?" she instructed.

    I noticed the same thing about Sotomayor in the Obamacare argument. She seems to not only view her role as an advocate, but also to be the coach for the state's advocate, repeatedly telling them what to say. I found it very off-putting, and I'm not even there. I'd imagine that the solicitor wanted to rip her a new one. She seems to be an insufferably arrogant person in a room full of people not noted for their humility.

    Of course, that's not much of a sample size for me - two half-hour sessions - so maybe that's too harsh.

  • Cyto||

    You know what's cool? The reasonable extension for the Chrome web browser. If you use it properly you get really funny threads where people argue with something that isn't there. Also, it helps avoid the time-sink of feeding the trolls.

  • BenDFW||

    Remember back when Prop 19 was around in California and Obama was saying that they MUST enforce federal law or else, the Feds would do it for them. At the same time, they told Arizona NOT to enforce federal law as supposedly they were already doing it for them. Why the different principle on Marijuana vs. Immigration?

  • Alice Bowie||

    Hey, that's what I said.

  • IceTrey||

    Because potheads don't vote.

  • Gerholdt||

    And how is it that Sra. Sotomayor did not recuse herself? Wouldn't that "wise Latina" comment indicate bias in favor of the ethnic group most likely to be affected by the Arizona law?

  • MisterDamage||

    I don't think we really want supreme court justices recusing themselves because they share racial heritage with an interested party.

  • IceTrey||

    Now if we could just get rid of birthright citizenship.

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