The United States Supreme Court has finally spoken regarding the Arizona immigration law, which has caused debate throughout the nation since the law passed in the Grand Canyon State. The decision was split. Naturally, with political spinning, the Democrats and the Republicans have both claimed that they’ve won.
While neither side has totally won, the high court’s decision is definitely a blow to President Barack Obama. The Supreme Court struck down three of the four measures in the law, but the part of the law that has been called constitutional – and remains in force – is the part of the law of which politicians have been most passionately involved.
The Supreme Court has decided that it is totally legal for Arizona to require police officers to make reasonable efforts to determine the immigration status of people they stop for other infractions. Arizona believed that the federal government has been shirking its responsibility in regard to this part of immigration law, and they incorporated their own measure into state law.
The Supreme Court’s message to the federal government is that a state can absolutely make a duplicate law and enforce it at the state level if it so desires. Why this would be a shock to Obama or anyone else is puzzling. There are many times states duplicate federal laws in order to co-enforce the law with the federal government – especially when the state feels the federal government is not doing its job in enforcing the law.
One needs to look no further than something as basic as speed limits throughout the nation. In the past, the federal government has designated a 55 mph speed limit. This does not make it illegal for a state, county, city, or other local municipality to pass the same law and enforce it when the federal government doesn’t.
It was quite unintelligent for anyone to say that that part of the Arizona immigration law is not legal. The other three portions that were called not constitutional by the Supreme Court were not simply duplicate laws. They were new ideas going beyond what the federal government has incorporated as United States’ policy on immigration.
Arizona wanted to require aliens to carry registration papers with them. That will not be allowed. Also, the state wanted to penalize companies who employ non-American citizens who are in the country illegally. While this would free up more jobs for American citizens, it is not constitutional according to the Supreme Court. President Obama has gone to extreme measures to insure that aliens can work in this country via his announced DREAM Act by Fiat measure a week ago. Finally, the justices struck down the authorization of warrantless arrests for deportable crimes.
The constitutional part of the law which remains on the books is the part that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer continually criticized the Obama administration for not enforcing. She maintained throughout the debate that the huge number of illegal persons entering the United States via the Arizona border would be greatly reduced if the federal government had done its job in enforcing the law. Now, Arizona has the Supreme Court’s blessings to enforce that portion of the law.
About Scott Paulson
Scott Paulson writes political commentary for Examiner.com and teaches English at a community college in the Chicago area. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.