Supreme Court Agrees to Review Arizona’s Controversial Immigration Law

Contributed by Sara Zorich

In its Petition for Writ of Certiorari filed on August 10, 2011, the state of Arizona requested that the Supreme Court review the Ninth Circuit’s prior decision to enjoin four provisions of Arizona’s Immigration law on the basis that:

  1. The case was of extraordinary importance with regard to a national issue;
  2. The Ninth Circuit’s decision created a circuit split regarding the preemptive effect of the federal immigration laws;
  3. The Ninth’s Circuit’s decision to enjoin the Arizona law was wrong based on the law.

The four provisions of the Arizona law enjoined by the Ninth Circuit in July 2011 included:

  • Section 2 (B) – requiring law-enforcement officials to determine the immigration/citizenship status of anyone who is stopped, detained or arrested;
  • Section 3 – making it a state crime to be unlawfully present in the United States;
  • Section 5 (C) – making it a state crime for any “unauthorized alien” to apply for or perform work in Arizona;
  • Section 6 – authorizing warrantless arrests of aliens by law enforcement if they have probable cause to believe the person has committed an offense that could subject them to deportation. 

On December 12, 2011, the US Supreme Court granted Arizona’s request and has agreed to review Arizona’s immigration law.  The high court will decide whether the enjoined provisions of Arizona’s immigration law, SB 1070, are preempted by federal law.  The Supreme Court’s decision will likely have a sweeping impact on a state’s ability to implement immigration laws to supplement those implemented by Congress.  Of note, Justice Kagan will take no part in the consideration or decision of the issue based on her prior work with the Obama administration.