Supreme Court in Mixed AZ Ruling

In a mixed decision today, the Supreme Court sided with Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama in upholding 3 of 4 challenges to Arizona law SB1070.

3 were upheld in 5-3 decisions. Justice Kagan was recused.

This is a major victory for the Obama Administration and it’s immigration policy.

The notorious so-called “show me your papers” §2(B) section of SB1070 was still allowed to stand by an 8-0 vote. The Court did not rule out striking it down later.

The Obama Administration acted swiftly to limit the effectiveness of §2(B).

Arizona Law SB1070

SB1070 is a law passed by the Arizona state senate, with bipartisan support, by a 17-13 vote in February 2010. An amended version was passed by the Arizona house 35-21 in April and signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010.

When stopped for other violations it allows state and local law enforcement, under reasonable suspicion, to inquire into and verify the immigration status of an individual. That is allowed by §2(B). If they cannot produce proof of legal status then they were to be turned over to immigration officials after any prosecution for state offenses.

That’s SB1070’s most controversial feature. It sparked nationwide protests two years ago.

SB1070 doesn’t change federal law. It does set state penalties for certain activities:

  • Trespassing by illegals is a state violation
  • Roadside pickup/concealment or transportation of illegals is a state violation

Illegals commonly trespass on private property when entering the United States. It is common practice in Tucson and Phoenix for illegals to stand on street corners soliciting day work.

SB1070 also allowed for warrantless arrests of illegals suspected of committing deportable crimes.

Civil rights protections are specifically safeguarded in Section §2(G) of SB1070 and in numerous other places within the 17 page law.

It is intended to assist the federal government in the enforcement of existing immigration laws.

The Obama Administration, through Eric Holder, challenged the Arizona law.

The President famously, and mistakenly, claimed:

But now suddenly if you don’t have your papers and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you’re going to be harassed
– President Barack Obama, Ottumwa Iowa, 4/27/2010

The Supreme Court Ruling

It is fairly common practice in the normal course of their duties for state and local law enforcement to arrest and detain individuals for incidental violations of federal laws. In such cases they are turned over to federal authorities after any state or local infractions are resolved.

Immigration, though, is a unique case. The Supreme Court ruled foreign nations should deal with only one authority, not a different set of rules for each state.

The Supreme Court ruled correctly that federal law has broad preemptive power over immigration law and that its authority supersedes state law.

It ruled that SB1070 stood in the way of the federal government exercising its specific authority and duty to enforce immigration law. It further ruled that SB1070 was instituted before the state court had “an opportunity to construe it” (agree).

By 5-3 margins the Court ruled unconstitutional:

  • Section §3 trespassing violations by illegals
  • Section §5(C) making it unlawful for illegals to work in Arizona
  • Section §6 warrantless arrests of illegals

By 8-0 the Court allowed the controversial §2(B) “show me your papers” section to stand.

The Empire Strikes Back!

Within hours of the Court’s decision the Obama Administration swiftly instituted two new complementary actions designed to prevent lawful implementation of section §2(B):

  1. Rescinded Arizona’s Section 287(g) ICE program privileges
  2. Set up an Arizona only hotline to report civil rights violations

The 287(g) program is a federal-state partnership that allows joint enforcement of immigration laws under the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arm of the Department of Homeland Security.

According to Congressmen Jeff Flake (R-AZ) ICE will only respond to Arizona immigration requests if the illegal is a convicted criminal.

For Arizona only, the federal government will no longer enforce immigration law in the state. In other words, it effectively makes §2(B) unenforceable.

Then, to further restrict §2(B), the Department of Justice punitively setup a special hotline phone and email address to report civil rights violations during its attempted enforcement.

The hotline email is: The phone number is 1-855-353-1010.

Arizona Real World Experience

I’m a proud graduate of the University of Arizona in Tucson. It is 75 miles north of Nogales, Mexico.

I’m not Latino, nor would anyone ever mistake me as such. I’m white; born and raised in Oregon.

Many times I traveled with a Latino college buddy over into Mexico to visit his non-U.S. family. He’s a U.S. citizen educated in the United States who later became principal of the high school he attended – Sunnyside High School in South Tucson.

In those days the border was easily, and legally crossed. I never thought twice about going back and forth across the border.

The only border patrol I ever saw were nonchalantly parked in one or two marked vans right next to the border fence in Nogales. Never once were we stopped anywhere but the actual border crossing for any reason.

Things Have Changed!

Today, though, it’s dramatically different. The border patrol is expansive and everywhere. In the southern part of the state they patrol some roadways more frequently than do state troopers.

They regularly set up road blocks many miles north of the border where every vehicle is inspected. The border patrol randomly sets up checkpoints with elevated platforms from where they scour the desert looking for illegals.

With border patrol vehicle lights flashing, I’ve been pulled over and subject to an internal, hands-on search of my SUV.

What is changed is rampant drug violence, murders and crimes committed by illegal immigrants all the way from border towns like Yuma and Douglas up to Phoenix and points north.

Since 2006 the La Abra Plain of Organ Pipe National Monument has been closed to the public because of the danger.

Some years dozens of illegals die from heat stroke during mid-summer in Arizona’s deadly Sonora Desert. They are dumped by Mexican coyotes and simply told to walk tens of miles across unmarked desert to pickup points. Others die stuffed hidden in vehicles in oppressive 110 degree heat.

That is what Arizona law SB1070 was specifically crafted to curb.


The United States is a country built by immigrants. Diversity is its primary source of innovation and strength. Discrimination is an abomination that is repulsive to all the United States stands for.

When violent crime and death is brought across our borders by illegal immigrants it is the duty of federal, state and local law enforcement to protect our citizens.

SB1070 is an attempt by the State of Arizona to assist the federal government in doing just that. Much of it was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

What hasn’t changed is the need for protection against potentially violent illegals and drug traffikers.

What hasn’t changed is the general need to reform U.S. immigration law. We must resolve the status of millions of law abiding, tax-paying illegals whose only crime is nothing more than crossing the border without legal permission.

Immigration is easy to fix if ideological notions are set aside. Make the punishment fit the crime.

Fine lawbreakers. Streamline the immigration process for everyone. Grant those without criminal records temporary permission to stay after paying their fine. Then make them go to the back of the line and endure the legal process like everyone else.

It isn’t amnesty for a judge to fine someone thousands of dollars for the immigration equivalent of a speeding ticket.


About azleader

Learning to see life more clearly... one image at a time!

Posted on Jun 25, 2012, in Barack Obama, constitution, culture, economics, immigration, Life, news, Opinion, Politics, Thoughts. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Nice article, I like the solutions that you suggested. There Seems to be an inclination to regard illegal aliens the same as hardened criminals. Some, as you point out are, however most are not. I am not personally familiar with the immigration process but I’d imaging (like most functions of government) it is grossly inefficient. Streamlining the process is a good start for immigration reform. Once this is done and it is easier for people to come here legally then it may be easier for politicians to agree on a path to citizenship.

    • You have my apology. Since your comment, I have serious revised this article.

      I was affected both by an erroneous press report I read early in the day in the LA Times and my lack of understanding of the actual decision when I read that. I’m not a lawyer. 😉

      The Supreme Court actually had a split decision over AZ law SB1070… and the split makes all the difference in the world.

      My conclusions have not changed but I have added important detail to the decision.

      Most important detail is a section I called “The Empire Strikes Back!” where I identify what the Obama Administration did to mitigate the part of SB1070 that was not struck down by the Supreme Court.

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