Supreme Court Trashes Obama Administration’s Logic against Arizona Immigration Law

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On Wednesday, the majority of the Supreme Court justices clearly seemed to hold with the logic for Arizona's immigration law rather than against it. In absence of any radical political manipulation, it is safe to assume that the lawyers on behalf of Arizona did a good job, while the Obama administration's logic to ban the law was flimsy.

The principal argument on behalf of the Obama administration was that Arizona's law would lead to the ‘mass incarceration' of people who happened to stroll into United States and posed the risk of ‘significant foreign relations problems.' Justice Scalia pointed out that the ‘significant foreign relations problem' could be alleviated by releasing the people from jail and sending them back to their home countries.

Paul Clement, representing Arizona and Gov. Jan Brewer argued that being on the southwest border with Mexico, Arizona bore a disproportionate share of costs from illegal immigration and that the state's law complemented the federal government's efforts.

The arguments by Paul Clement which the Obama administration failed to contradict successfully established the following points:
  • Stare decisis is clear that the question of whether a state law is preempted does not depend upon the policies of the Executive Branch of the federal government, but upon the intent of the Congress
  • States still possess the authority to enforce immigration laws
  • Complaints by foreign governments and officials cannot preempt laws passed by a state legislature
  • Congress has consistently and repeatedly encouraged meaningful implementation of immigration laws by state and local assistance in enforcement – exhibited by numerous federal statutes
  • The challenged law SB 1070 is totally consistent with Congressional intent. The previous judgment of the Ninth Circuit in preventing key provisions of the law from coming into effect based upon the Obama administration's argument that the law interferes with federal executive “priorities and strategies” was wrong. This is because it is the priorities and strategies of the Congress that should have been considered and not the convenience of a particular executive regime
Dan Stein, the president of Federation for American Immigration Reform told the media on the courtroom battle: “It has been clear from the outset that the administration's lawsuit against Arizona was about achieving political gain by ensuring that no one enforces U.S. immigration laws. As attorneys for Arizona ably pointed out before the Supreme Court … not only are state efforts to enforce U.S. immigration law not preempted, but Congress has expressly welcomed the assistance of state and local governments in enforcement.”

The final decision of the Supreme Court, to be taken in June, would decide many questions for states, including how much of the sovereignty guaranteed to them by the Constitution and how many of the rights accorded to them under the first agreements which bound the States to the Union still hold true.

The Supreme Court case is Arizona v. United States, No. 11-182.

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