The Anchorage Daily News picked up the AP story which includes comments from ordinary Alaskans, and also published stories on two other Court decisions, to include a 5-4 ruling that it is unconstitutional for state laws to require juveniles convicted of murder to be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole, and another 5-4 decision reaffirming its two-year-old decision allowing corporations to spend freely to influence elections, in the process striking down a Montana law limiting corporate campaign spending. A decision on Obamacare is not expected until Thursday June 28th, which is the last day of rulings this term.
-- Read the 76-page Court decision HERE.
The analysis of the ruling shows that it reinforces federal supremacy over the states in regard to immigration, and focuses upon Congressional intent and action. Two of the overturned provisions specifically cited the role of Congress. The best plain English summary of today's decision was published by the Scotusblog:
-- State Law Crime of Being In The Country Illegally: OVERTURNED. Although federal law already makes it illegal for someone to be in the country without proper authorization, Section 3 of the Arizona statute also makes it a state crime, subject to additional fines and possible imprisonment. The Court held that this provision was preempted and cannot be enforced. The Court held that Congress has left no room for states to regulate in this field, even to implement the federal prohibition.
-- Ban on Working In The State: OVERTURNED. Section 5(C) of the statute also makes it a state crime for undocumented immigrants from applying for a job or working in the state. It is also held preempted as imposing an obstacle to the federal regulatory system. Because Congress obviously chose not make working in the country without proper authorization a federal crime, states cannot enact additional criminal penalties Congress decided not to impose.
-- Warrantless Arrest Of Individuals Believed To Have Committed A Deportable Crime: OVERTURNED. Section 6 of the statute authorizes state law enforcement officials to arrest without a warrant any individual otherwise lawfully in the country, if law enforcement officials have probable cause to believe the individual has committed a deportable offense. The Court held that this provision is preempted. Whether and when to arrest someone for being unlawfully in the country is a question solely for the federal government.
-- Police Checks: CONDITIONALLY UPHELD. Section 2(B) of the law requires the police to check the immigration status of persons whom they detain before releasing them. The Court held that the lower courts were wrong to prevent this provision from going into effect while its lawfulness is being litigated. It was not sufficiently clear that the provision would be held preempted, the Court held. The Court took pains to point out that the law, on its face, prohibits stops based on race or national origin and provides that the stops must be conducted consistent with federal immigration and civil rights laws. However, it held open that the provision could eventually be invalidated after trial.
Despite the Supreme Court's ruling, the injunction blocking the upheld provision from taking effect is still in place. The case now goes back to the lower courts. Authorities cannot begin enforcing the provision upheld by the Supreme Court until U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton lifts the injunction she issued in 2010. It is unclear how long that process could take.
Nevertheless, the Court ruling clearly exposes the need for Congress to take additional action, as I showed in the highlighted sentences. In particular, Congress must pass a law allowing states to implement the federal prohibition against someone being in the country without proper authorization. Illegal immigration must be considered a crime, period. If this is done, then this would make the need for a ban on working illegally in the state redundant.
Reaction: The responses by key Arizona politicos are documented by the Arizona Republic. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer issued a statement characterizing the ruling as "a victory for the rule of law", and added that it is also a victory for the 10th Amendment and all Americans who believe in the inherent right and responsibility of states to defend their citizens. But she also cautioned law enforcement that they will be held accountable should the law be misused in a fashion that violates an individual's civil rights. ABC15 documents even more reaction, including that of Mitt Romney, who said that President Obama has failed to provide any leadership on immigration, and that the decision represents yet another broken promise by Obama. Romney reaffirmed the duty and the right of each state to secure our borders and preserve the rule of law, particularly when the federal government has failed to meet its responsibilities.
ALIPAC is representative of the immigration reform lobby, but despite the fact that three provisions of SB1070 were overturned, they seem pleased with the decision. William Gheen said "This Supreme Court ruling in our favor is an historic victory for Americans fighting against the corporate sponsored illegal alien invasion of our homeland. This ruling is a great blow to the Mexican government and Barack Obama's efforts to sustain the invasion. We believe that we now have the momentum to pass versions of Arizona's SB 1070 law in many other states since the court upheld the most important provision in the bill!"