Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Supreme Court signals support for Arizona immigration law provision; Senate Democrats outraged, vow to "overrule"

A supporter of Arizona Senate immigration law on April 25, 2012 outside of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court began reviewing Arizona's controversial law which empowers Arizona police officers to stop and demand papers of anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant. (Getty Images)
Fox News:
The Supreme Court signaled Wednesday that it might uphold a key element of Arizona's immigration law, as justices across the board suggested the state has a serious problem on its hands and should have some level of sovereignty to address illegal immigration.

The justices appeared ready to allow a provision requiring police officers to check the immigration status of people they think are in the U.S. illegally.

The justices strongly suggested Wednesday they are not buying the Obama administration's argument that the state exceeded its authority, with Chief Justice John Roberts at one point saying he doesn't think the federal government even wants to know how many illegal immigrants are in the country.

Wading into a highly divisive issue in the middle of a presidential campaign year, conservative and liberal justices who heard oral arguments on Wednesday morning seemed to find no strong objection to that section of the law.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who casts the deciding vote in many cases, referred to the "social and economic disruption" that states endure as a result of a flood of illegal immigrants and suggested that states such as Arizona have authority to act.

"You can see it's not selling very well," Justice Sonia Sotomayor, one of the more liberal-leaning judges, told Obama administration Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, referring to his arguments that the law would lead to harassment of citizens.

Chief Justice John Roberts dismissed the administration's arguments that the Arizona law conflicted with the federal system, saying Arizona’s measure is "an effort to help you enforce federal law."

The four conservative justices, Roberts, Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito, all asked tough questions of Verrilli. Fellow conservative Justice Clarence Thomas did not ask any questions, but based on past votes is expected to support the Arizona law.

Justice Elena Kagan recused herself from the case because she had previously worked on it while serving as the solicitor general for Obama.

Verrilli tried to persuade the justices that they should view the law in its entirety and said it was inconsistent with federal immigration policy. He said the records check would allow the state to "engage effectively in mass incarceration" of undocumented immigrants.

But Roberts said the state merely wants to notify federal authorities it has someone in custody who may be in the U.S. illegally. "It seems to me that the federal government just doesn't want to know who's here illegally and who's not," Roberts said.

Yesterday, Sen. Chuck "The Schmuck" Schumer (D-NY) preemptively stated that he is ready to "overrule" the Supreme Court on Arizona immigration law. Here is the lowdown: