SCOTUS: Arizona overstepped with SB1070 - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

SCOTUS: Court rules police can verify immigration status

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Gov. Jan Brewer signs into law Senate Bill 1070 on April 23, 2010. (Source: Office of the Arizona Governor) Gov. Jan Brewer signs into law Senate Bill 1070 on April 23, 2010. (Source: Office of the Arizona Governor)
The Supreme Court Justices pose for a picture in 2010. (Source: Steve Petteway/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States/The Oyez Project) The Supreme Court Justices pose for a picture in 2010. (Source: Steve Petteway/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States/The Oyez Project)

WASHINGTON (RNN) - The U.S. Supreme Court handed a small victory to the Obama Administration on Monday, ruling against key parts of the controversial Arizona immigration law.

The court agreed that three of the four provisions of the law are unconstitutional.

However, the court upheld the most controversial aspect of the law, allowing local law enforcement officers to attempt to verify the immigration status of a person who has been stopped or detained for violating other laws, including moving vehicle violations.

Police must have a reasonable suspicion that the person is in the country illegally. They cannot hold an individual without contacting federal immigration officials.

President Barack Obama said he was pleased with the court's decision, but was concerned about what the court left intact.

"No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like," he said, adding that Arizona police should not enforce the provision in a way that undermines civil rights, according to the Associated Press.

The court left the so-called "show us your papers" provision open to further challenges in lower courts, stating it could not be struck down without first playing out on the ground.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, in the majority opinion, sided mostly with the federal government's position that the Arizona law was invalid because federal immigration law trumps state law.

"The government of the United States has broad, undoubted power over the subject of immigration and the status of aliens," Kennedy wrote.

The state of Arizona had argued the law did not conflict with federal law, but matched it almost entirely, with the exception that it encouraged more frequent citizenship checks.

Justices struck down a part of the law that would have made non-compliance with federal immigration laws a misdemeanor and punish workers more severely for attempting to work illegally in the country.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer declared the ruling a victory for "all Americans who believe in the inherent right and responsibility of states to defend their citizens," despite the fact the majority of the law was struck down.

Brewer said in a statement the court upheld the heart of the law, and insisted the Obama administration had been dealt a loss.

She headed off possible backlash about the law's potential to promote racial profiling.

"Today's ruling does not mark the end of our journey," she said. "It can be expected that legal challenges to SB 1070 and the State of Arizona will continue."

Brewer posted a link to her PAC on her Facebook page less than 30 minutes after the ruling was announced, and solicited Facebook followers to sign a petition on her PAC's website.

"Yes, Governor Brewer, I will stand with you to Secure Our Border," the petition reads. "President Obama and the federal government has [sic] failed to do its job so we must stand united to protect America!"

The law was the strictest of its kind when it was enacted in 2010, and has inspired similar legislation in other states, including Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Illinois and Utah.

"State laws on immigration are required because the federal government has refused to enforce its own immigration policies," Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said in a statement. "We will analyze the Supreme Court opinion to see what potential effect it might have on the provisions of Alabama's law."

The author of the Arizona SB1070 law is Kris Kobach, a University of Missouri at Kansas City law professor. Kobach also authored Alabama's controversial immigration law, HB56.

Kobach told KCTV, "The bottom line is that the provision that they were most worried about and the provision that they criticized heavily, the arrest provision, is the one going forward and will be enforced in Arizona."

Kobach is currently Kansas Secretary of State and works for the Immigration Law Reform Institute in Washington.

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