The Supreme Court of the United States ruled today on Arizona’s highly controversial immigration law, commonly known as SB 1070, and unanimously agreed to uphold a key provision that makes it legal, but not mandatory, for law enforcement to check a person’s immigration status during a stop or arrest if the official believes the person may have entered the country illegally.
The justices split 5-3 on the other parts of Arizona’s law, including:
- Making it a crime for illegal immigrants to solicit, apply for, or find work.
- Authorizing law enforcement officials to arrest anyone without a warrant if they have probable cause an offense could also lead to the deportation of a suspect.
- Making it a crime for immigrants to fail to carry registration papers or other documents.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority, saying “Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration, but the state may not pursue policies that undermine federal law.” Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented on all three blocked provisions, while Justice Samuel Alito dissented on two– saying the the last provision listed above conflicted with federal law.
Slightly overshadowed by the decision on SB 1070 was the court’s 5-4 decision to decline to revisit the issue of campaign finance, commonly known as Citizens United. The decision was split between the court’s ideological sides, with Justice Stephen Breyer writing a dissent for the liberal wing, saying Citizens United was a mistake.
Back in 2009, Ali Noorani of the National Immigration Forum, a pro-immigration group, lambasted Joe Arpaio, the controversial Arizona sheriff, for abusive treatment, racial profiling and doing anything he can to harass immigrants.