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Supreme Court casts doubt on Obama’s immigration law claim

Home - by - April 25, 2012 - 21:30 America/New_York - 5 Comments

Washington Times

Supreme Court justices took a dim view of the Obama administration’s claim that it can stop Arizona from enforcing immigration laws, telling government lawyers during oral argument Wednesday that the state appears to want to push federal officials, not conflict with them.

The court was hearing arguments on Arizona’s immigration crackdown law, which requires police to check the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally, and would also write new state penalties for illegal immigrants who try to apply for jobs.

The Obama administration has sued, arguing that those provisions conflict with the federal government’s role in setting immigration policy, but justices on both sides of the aisle struggled to understand that argument.

“It seems to me the federal government just doesn’t want to know who’s here illegally,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said at one point.

The Arizona law requires all police to check with federal officials if they suspect someone is in the country illegally. The government argues that is OK when it’s on a limited basis, but said having a state mandate for all of its law enforcement is essentially a method of trying to force the federal government to change its priorities.

Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. said the federal government has limited resources and should have the right to determine the extent of calls it gets about possible illegal immigrants.

“These decisions have to be made at the national level,” he said.

But even Democratic-appointed justices were uncertain of that.

“I’m terribly confused by your answer,” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who went on to say that the federal government can always decline to pick up illegal immigrants when Arizona officials call.

The Obama administration was on its firmest ground when it argued Arizona should not be allowed to impose state penalties such as jail time against illegal immigrants who try to seek jobs.

Federal law chiefly targets employers, not employees, and Mr. Verrilli said adding stiffer penalties at the state level is not coordination. He said Congress’s 1986 immigration law laying out legal penalties was meant to be a comprehensive scheme, and Congress left employees untouched — and Justice Sotomayor seemed to agree.

“It seems odd to think the federal government is deciding on employer sanctions and has unconsciously decided not to punish employees,” she told Paul D. Clement, who argued the case on behalf of Arizona.

A decision is expected before the end of the court’s term this summer.

Only eight justices were present for the arguments. Justice Elana Kagan recused herself from the case, presumably because she was the Obama administration’s solicitor general in 2010, when the law was being debated in Arizona.

Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the measure into law, was present for the arguments, as were members of Congress who follow the immigration issue: Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, the top Democrat on the House immigration subcommittee, and Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican who has fought for an immigration crackdown.




  1. Chieftain

    April 25th, 2012

    I hate to go out on a limb, but I smell the biggest landslide victory in American History coming, and not because people love Willard, but because they can’t stand any more of Obama.

    I believe SCOTUS will shove this one up Obama’s narrow ass right alongside Obamacare, no vaseline and no kiss. The written opinions on these two cases will probably burn your eyeballs to read, they will probably be that strongly worded opinions ever issued by SCOTUS.

    And I cannot frickin’ belive they sent Vettelli down there again, or that they even let him back in the door at the Court after his performance the last time….

    This is gonna be monumental….

    Thumb up +7

  2. old_oaks

    April 25th, 2012

    So, my brother and I were driving across New Mexico less than a week ago, just past or just before Las Cruses.

    ALL TRAFFIC was diverted into a US Customs check-point, mind you Las Cruses IS in the US… They had a big ugly dog, some dude on a laptop and then the fella that peeked in the driver’s window. He said; “WHAT IS YOUR CITIZENSHIP?”

    My brother responded; “Illinois.”


    He asked him again and my brother said; “US citizen.”

    He then asked me, I said; “US Citizen.”

    We were on our way.

    WTF? is wrong with the AZ law that the government isn’t doing anyway?

    Thumb up +5

  3. Moxie Man

    April 25th, 2012

  4. Bob M.

    April 26th, 2012

    I could fix the ILLEGAL FOREIGN INVADER problem, with ONE executive order.

    President M signs into law today, the National Bounty Act. $50 an EAR, and NO BAG LIMIT!

    Putting Americans BACK to work, and DOING the work the ILLEGAL FOREIGN INVADERS just WON’T do… >:->

    Thumb up 0

  5. Team America

    April 26th, 2012

    old_oaks – Illinois….LOL Let’s hope they keep this same sentiment while deliberating.

    Thumb up +1