Tuesday, June 26, 2012 at 5:27 AM
Today the Supreme Court struck down 75 percent of Arizona’s anti-immigration law: a) ruling it unconstitutional for police officers to make warrantless arrests of anyone they suspect is an illegal immigrant; b) ruling it unconstitutional to require illegal immigrants to carry federal documents; and c) ruling it unconstitutional for the state to arrest illegal immigrants merely for seeking employment.
With respect to the remaining 25 percent of the law, the Court essentially punted: reserving the right to strike down this part which grants police officers the right to demand immigration “papers please” of anyone they arrest for a traffic infraction or for breaking any other law – if they reasonably suspect that person is an illegal immigrant.
Here is the reason the Court gave for its reservation:
Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration…, but the state may not pursue policies that undermine federal law.
There is a basic uncertainty about what the law means and how it will be enforced… [T]his opinion does not foreclose other preemption and constitutional challenges to the law as interpreted and applied after it goes into effect.
(The Associated Press, June 25, 2012)
This, by any fair reading, is a veritable smack down of the Arizona law.
Yet it is not at all surprising that unhinged, anti-Obama politicians like the Republican governor of Arizona are greeting this slap in the face as a “vindication,” declaring “we won”?! Even presidential nominee Mitt Romney reacted with a press statement insisting that states have the right to make and enforce immigration laws despite the Supreme Court just declaring that they have no such right. Frankly, this kind of defiant pandering to the racial ignorance and insecurities of Whites should be unconstitutional too.
On the other hand, what is surprising, if not disturbing, is the extent to which legal commentators are also spinning this decision as a win for Arizona. For no lawyer worth her salt could possibly regard today’s decision as anything but a rebuke – not just of this immigration law, but of copycat laws many Republican-controlled state legislatures enacted as well.
That said, here for the record is how I presaged today’s decision two years ago when Arizona passed this law:
I am entirely sympathetic to the desperate and despairing effort Arizona lawmakers are making to combat this problem…, but turning Arizona into a police state (for Hispanics) is not the answer…
This Arizona law legalizes racial profiling… Not surprisingly, its legality is already being challenged in court, and I predict that even this conservative Supreme Court will rule it unconstitutional in due course.
(“Arizona Scapegoating Hispanics Instead of Combating Illegal Immigration,” The iPINIONS Journal, April 26, 2010)
Therefore, now that the Court has ruled just as I predicted, it is I, not Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who should feel vindicated.
Arizona Scapegoating Hispanics…
* This commentary was originally published yesterday, Monday, at 3:37 pm