Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Court Picks Apart Immigration Law ; Justices Let Key Provision Stand

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Court Picks Apart Immigration Law ; Justices Let Key Provision Stand

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - A divided Supreme Court threw out major parts of Arizona's tough crackdown on illegal immigrants Monday in a ruling sure to reverberate through the November elections. The justices unanimously approved the law's most-discussed provision - requiring police to check the immigration status of those they stop for other reasons - but limited the consequences.

Although upholding the "show me your papers" requirement, which some critics say could lead to ethnic profiling, the justices struck down provisions that created state crimes allowing local police to arrest people for federal immigration violations. And they warned against detaining people for any prolonged period merely for not having proper immigration papers.

The mixed outcome vindicated the Obama administration's aggressive challenge to laws passed by Arizona and the five states - Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah - that followed its lead in attempting to deal with illegal immigration in the face of federal inaction on comprehensive reform.

The administration had assailed the Arizona law as an unconstitutional intrusion into an area under federal control.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, joined in his majority opinion by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts as well as three liberal justices, said the impasse in Washington over immigration reform did not justify state intrusion.

"Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration while that process continues, but the state may not pursue policies that undermine federal law," Kennedy said. That part of the ruling drew a caustic dissent from Justice Antonin Scalia, who said the Obama administration doesn't want to enforce existing immigration law.

A second opinion with potentially important implications for the presidential campaign is expected when the court meets Thursday to issue its final rulings this term. …

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