Supreme Court Spotlight on Immigration

Although it won’t ignite as large of a media frenzy as last month’s arguments on the health care challenges, the U.S. Supreme Court’s April docket includes a political hot potato – the constitutionality of an Arizona law designed to crack down on illegal immigration.

Arizona v. United States involves the federal government’s challenge to Arizona’s controversial immigration law, S.B. 1070. The case presents the Court with a chance to make a statement about immigration policy and federalism principals; both of which are likely to be hotly contested issues in this fall’s presidential election.

The federal government alleges that four parts of the Arizona law are preempted by federal immigration policy: A requirement that Arizona law enforcement officials determine the immigration of those they detain; a provision making it a state criminal offense for immigrants to fail to follow federal immigration requirements; a section criminalizing working, or attempting to work, by any unlawfully present alien; and a requirement that state law enforcement officers make warrantless arrests whenever they have probable cause to believe that a person has committed an offense that makes that person removable from the United States.

The federal government argues that the federal immigration system fully regulates this area, which preempts any state regulations. Given the politics surrounding immigration and the constitutional importance of the issues before the Court, a number of amicus briefs have been filed in this case, including:


Members of Congress who support the law

Members of Congress who don’t support the law

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

To check out the Court’s entire April argument calendar and the briefs the Court is considering, visit the PREVIEW of United States Supreme Court Cases website.