The decision struck down three out of four challenged provisions of SB1070. A summary of the decision can be read here. There will be plenty of legal analysis to go around. But to keep it short and as simple as possible, here is the part of the law upheld and the reason why:
Section 2(B) of S. B. 1070 requires state officers to make a “reasonable attempt . . . to determine the immigration status” of any person they stop, detain, or arrest on some other legitimate basis if “reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien and is unlawfully present in theUnited States.” Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §11–1051(B) (West 2012).
The court admitted that “Detaining individuals solely to verify their immigration status would raise constitutional concerns…” but then in effect said that it would wait and see whether the application would in fact violate the constitution:
But §2(B) could be read to avoid these concerns. To take one example, a person might be stopped for jaywalking in Tucson and be unable to produce identification…The state courts may conclude that, unless the person continues to be suspected of some crime for which he may be detained by state officers, it would not be reasonable to prolong the stop for the immigration inquiry.
There are a lot of “mays” in the Court’s language. Finally, the court held that 2(b) should remain in effect but offered this cautious language: “This opinion does not foreclose other preemption and constitutional challenges to the law asinterpreted and applied after it goes into effect.”
Immigration enforcement, by its very existence, violates the U.S. constitution on a daily basis. For those who are targeted by ICE, due process protections are severely diminished, even if that person is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. 2(b) may cause more unlawful detention of persons suspected of being undocumented in the United States.
The Supreme Court, perhaps in a nod to reality, in effect is saying that the United States government is already cooperating at such high levels with local law enforcement that 2b will not change anything.
Justice Scalia Cites to Obama Hypocrisy
Justice Scalia, who would have upheld SB1070 in its entirety, took this grand opportunity to direct a stinging barb at the hyper-political Obama administration. Part of the federal governement’s main challenge to SB1070 was that it would force the federal government to spend its limited budget on lower-priority enforcement targets. Scalia, as a reasonably intelligent being, saw through this argument as pure shenanigans:
It has become clear that federal enforcement priorities—in the sense of priorities based on the need to allocate “scarce enforcement resources”—is not the problem here. After this case was argued and while it was under consideration, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced a program exempting from immigration enforcement some 1.4 million illegal immigrants under the age of 30.4…
The husbanding of scarce enforcement resources can hardly be the justification for this, since the considerable administrative cost of conducting as many as 1.4 million background checks, and ruling on the biennial requests for dispensation that the non-enforcement program envisions, will necessarily be deducted from immigration enforcement.
Immigrants are being played as pawns from both sides solely for political gain, as the SCOTUS decision on SB1070 clearly reflects.