Supreme Court hints OK on Arizona immigration law
Bucking the Obama administration, Supreme Court justices seemed to find little trouble Wednesday with major parts of Arizona’s tough immigration law that require police to check the legal status of people they stop for other reasons.
But the fate of other provisions that make Arizona state crimes out of immigration violations was unclear in the court’s final argument of the term.
The latest clash between states and the administration turns on the extent of individual states’ roles in dealing with the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants. Immigration policy is essentially under the federal government’s control, but a half-dozen Republican-dominated states have passed their own restrictions out of frustration with what they call Washington’s inaction to combat an illegal flood.
Parts of laws adopted by Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah also are on hold pending the high court’s decision.
Civil rights groups say the Arizona law and those in some other states encourage racial profiling and ethnic stereotyping, and debate over such laws could have an impact on this fall’s elections. More than 200 protesters gathered outside the court, most of them opposed to the Arizona law.
However, in an unusual comment, Chief Justice John Roberts made clear at the outset of the administration’s argument Wednesday that the court was looking only at state-versus-federal power, not the civil rights concerns that already are the subject of other lawsuits. “So this is not a case about ethnic profiling,” Roberts said.
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