Another “landmark” case for the Supreme Court

Today, the United States Supreme Court granted the petition filed by the state of Arizona to hear the case concerning the state’s immigration law passed in April, 2010. (See: page 2, case number 11-182 of the link).  This was an appeal from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision finding many of the provisions of Arizona’s law unenforceable.

Justice Kagan did not participate in the decision to hear the case, and, presumably, will not participate in deciding the case.  She was Solicitor General of the United States when the decision was made by the federal government to file suit to block the Arizona law’s implementation.  Of note, if the decision is 4-4, the opinion of the Ninth Circuit will stand.

The question presented is quite simple in legal jargon, but, perhaps, not so simple in its resolution.  The issue involves what is known as the “pre-emption” doctrine.  In simple English that means that if the federal government is given the power under the Constitution to regulate “something”, no state can enact legislation in that area. 

Here is where it gets complicated.  As an example, obviously, the federal government regulates illegal drug trafficking, as do the states, and the federal government does not try to stop the implementation of the states’ laws that do not conflict with federal law.  On the immigration front, however, this administration has decided that only it, not the states, can deal with illegal immigration, even though there is nothing in the Arizona law that conflicts with federal law.

Arizona has responded by saying, yes, but you are not enforcing the law, so we will.

No date for oral argument has been set, but it will occur this spring, and a decision, much like that in Obamacare, will most likely be made before  the current term of the Court ends in June, 2012.


9 replies
  1. Plainvillian
    Plainvillian says:

    This sounds like the reciprocal of the nullification argument during Andrew Jackson’s term.? Those who advocated state’s rights argued they could refuse to enforce Federal statutes.? Of course the events that followed in the 1860s gave us a strong Federal government and settled state’s inability to nullify Federal laws.
    When states enact immigration laws because the US government refuses to enforce it’s own laws that are clearly only the purview and responsibility of the Federal government we risk a Bbalkanization process.? If states can enforce individual immigration policies, what would prevent state border controls where everyone must produce proof of citizenship?? It brings to mind the old movie cliche, “where are you papers?”
    In January 2010, the president chartered a council of 10 governors to, among other things, “dictate the internal use of police and military units for civil support.”? Imagine Dannel Malloy, Jerry Brown and 8 more of their ilk dictating the nationwide use of the military for civil support.? Martial law without the president’s fingerprint?
    We live in interesting times.? We need a new president who will follow the constitution and secure our borders.

  2. Lynn
    Lynn says:

    I thought this would be a slam-dunk decision. Not so, by your explanation. Thanks SOS for explaining the complexities.

  3. RoBrDona
    RoBrDona says:

    A rather delicious irony if Kagan’s politically spawned suit is overturned while she sits powerless watching.? The right to define and defend its borders is a prerequisite for recognition as a nation-state. If you voluntarily give up some portion of that responsibility are you defacto committing treason?

  4. Shared Sacrifice
    Shared Sacrifice says:

    As a matter of priority, I think the gov’t owes us a secure border and integrity in the voting system well before they should feel justified to imprison anyone on tax fraud.? I’d been consistently audited by the IRS for income from an illegal alien relative, but the? bureaucrats never arrested the SOB, never investigated whether he voted, and never? pursued him for his unpaid liabilities which included tens of thousands in unpaid medical bills. If the USA has an “obligation” to support Aunt Zeituni, then they have an obligation to support, rather than rob, the rest of us!

  5. JBS
    JBS says:

    Why can’t the state of Arizona’s law be held concurrent with the federal law?
    It should mean at least two charges being brought against illegal immigrants. Plus, it is not just Central and South American people crossing the border; others, including Al-Qaeda, and other terrorists also find the porous border a convenient crossing point.
    It is possible that if enough illegals get to vote in Texas, Arizona or New Mexico that a move to seceded form the United States could be mounted. Mexico would like those areas back.

  6. JBS
    JBS says:

    Secure borders are provided in the Constitution. Why is the Arizona law mutually exclusive to federal law? Because Arizona had the temerity to enforce it?
    While there are less illegals trying to cross our U.S./Mexico border recently, that is only a function of our dismal economic state. (Somewhere there is a graph that would show a direct relationship with the Regime’s economic policies and the decrease of illegals trying to come through the border.) That will change. Economic conditions will change and the flood of illegals will return. All the while the SCOTUS, through the DOJ, is pillorying Arizona for its impertinence. This is the most base, retaliatory, and vindictive



  7. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    Yet as we speak, “sanctuary” cities like New Haven and Cambridge MA continue unimpeded their flaunting of unenforced federal law.

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