Obama v. Arizona: An Immigration Showdown
On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled on four provisions of Arizona's controversial immigration law. The results were mixed. The Court struck down three of the four provisions it considered, siding with the Obama administration in a 5-3 vote, but by 8-0 (Elena Kagan recused herself) upheld the "heart" of the bill, which is the authority for law enforcement to verify the immigration status of individuals at a traffic stop or under arrest. That provision is the one most vilified by the Left and the one attacked most vociferously by the administration in its suit. Numerous other provisions not considered by the Court remain in tact.
In the majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, "The National Government has significant power to regulate immigration. Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration while that process continues, but the State may not pursue policies that undermine federal law."
In Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent, joined by Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, Scalia rebutted that Arizona's law comports with federal law and does not attempt to undermine or preempt it. "Arizona has moved to protect its sovereignty -- not in contradiction of federal law, but in complete compliance with it," Scalia wrote. "The laws under challenge here do not extend or revise federal immigration restrictions, but merely enforce those restrictions more effectively. If securing its territory in this fashion is not within the power of Arizona, we should cease referring to it as a sovereign State."
The Obama administration retaliated with a Monday announcement that it has cancelled agreements allowing some Arizona police and sheriff's departments to enforce federal immigration law. Obama even went so far as to establish a hotline and email address for public reports of alleged civil rights violations by Arizona law enforcement. Republican Gov. Jan Brewer called the administration's action "another assault on the state of Arizona."
The administration has certainly undermined the law when it comes to immigration, not least with Obama's executive order implementing parts of the DREAM Act. Real immigration reform is needed. It would help if all hands were on deck, without the political games and selective (un)enforcement of the law.