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May 26, 2011

Arizona Wins Immigration Case At Supreme Court

It's not the big ID case but some of the same issues are in play, namely whether or not federal immigration laws preempt state action.

The ruling, delivered by Chief Justice John Roberts, rejected the arguments of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which argued that Arizona's effort is preempted by federal immigration law.

"We hold that the Arizona law is not preempted," wrote the Chief Justice.

This ruling is not on a more controversial Arizona immigration law, which is still working its way to the Supreme Court; it gives police more power to detain and stop illegals, a move that prompted economic boycotts of the state by a variety of groups.

In this case, the Court went against arguments of the business community and the Obama Administration, which maintain that federal law has the last say on immigration.

The "Legal Arizona Workers Act" would allow the state to revoke business licenses if they don't use the E-Verify system to check the legal status of their workers.

"Of course Arizona hopes that its law will result in more effective enforcement of the prohibition on employing unauthorized aliens," wrote the Chief Justice.

It's not exactly on point with the ID case but it certainly lays the groundwork that states can create laws which leads to "effective enforcement" against illegal aliens.

The Supreme Court works in mysterious ways but it's interesting and hopeful to say the least.

On the other hand: Lyle Denniston at SCOTUS Blog doesn't think this bodes well for the ID law.

The decision technically did not go beyond the specific Arizona law at issue but, between the lines, seemed to have some broader themes. There was even a hint that Arizona’s more controversial alien control law — now widely known as “S.B. 1070″ — may not fare as well as its worker control law now has, particularly its provision that gives police wide authority to arrest and detain any individual that an officer believes is an unlawful alien. Arizona is preparing to file a new appeal, probably during the summer, to try to revive S.B. 1070 after key provisions were blocked in April by the Ninth Circuit Court.

The Court majority on Thursday — 5-3 on the main points, 4-3 on less significant points — rejected claims by business and civil rights groups that Arizona’s four-year-old Legal Arizona Works Act intrudes upon federal immigration policy on aliens’ employment. In legal terminology, the Court ruled that federal law did not expressly or by implication “preempt” the state statute. Not the least significant of the Court’s declarations was a resuscitation of a 1976 precedent, DeCanas v. Bica, speaking broadly of a federal-state partnership on restricting aliens’ jobs. But that ruling came down ten years before Congress passed a sweeping new law that generally pushed aside state efforts, except for what had seemed since then to be a fairly narrowly worded exception.

The provision, centrally involved in the new decision, barred states and local governments from enforcing “any law” that imposed punishment on those who hired unlawful aliens, but it made an exception for punishment imposed by “licensing and similar laws.”

Still, if the court had ruled the other way, the AZ ID law would be in big trouble.

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posted by DrewM. at 03:24 PM

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