On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the federal government on 3 out of the 4 major issues, most notably declaring that the Arizona immigration law SB 1070 pre-empted (trumped) federal law. The court rejected the parts of the law that: 1) Make it a state crime for illegal immigrants not to possess their federal registration cards; 2) Make it a crime for illegal immigration to work, apply for work or solicit work; 3) Allow state and local police to arrest illegal immigrants without a warrant when probably cause exists that they committed “any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States.”
The only issue that the Court did not decide was the provision which requires officers to check the immigration status of individuals subsequent to a lawful arrest. This was left to the state courts to interpret further. There is a chance that if the state courts interpret the "status check" provision too broadly, that it will make its way back to SCOTUS as early as next term. The Court suggested that the interpretation would have to be narrow to survive.
The decision marks a major victory for the Obama care, which has staked, in part, its 2012 re-election bid on Obamacare and immigration.
The Court's ruling comes as somewhat as a surprise, because during oral arguments, Justices Scalia and Roberts did not mask their support for Arizona's position. Arizona claimed that the federal government has done too little to combat the increasing problem of illegal immigration in the country, and that it therefore has a right to impose its own immigration statutes. Although the Court's three liberal Justices seemed more wary of the law in arguments (discounting Kagan, who recused herself from the case), they did not voice the staunch opposition to the law that many immigration rights advocates had hoped for.
Monday's decision, written by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, was 5-3; Justice Kagan was recused because of her role as solicitor general. Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr., Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.
The Court's Arizona decision comes on an eventful week at the Supreme Court, in which SCOTUS also rules on the legality of Obamacare. Experts speculated that the decision could have been handed down on Monday, but now Thursday is looking more likely. Technically, the Court does not have to rule on the bill before the end of the term, though it is likely to do so.
On Monday, the Court also ruled has ruled 5-4 to summarily reverse the case of American Traditions Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock, a ruling which in essence extends the 2009 Citizens united ruling to the states. In a 5-4 opinion, the Court determined that Citizens United now applies not only to federal elections, but also to state contests.
The Arizona immigration decision is likely to have long-lasting ramifications and will undoubtedly impact the 2012 election. President Obama currently leads Mitt Romney 66%-25% among Hispanics in the latest USA Today/Gallup poll. Mitt Romney has been trying to close that gap by focusing on immigration issues, and he was campaigning in Arizona when the Court's decision was handed down. The Court's decision is likely to boost Obama's credibility on immigration issues, however, to the chagrin of Republicans.
Since it was introduced, SB 1070 sparked a firestorm of controversy on both sides. Supporters lambasted the federal government for its inaction on immigration issues. Liberals chastised the law for racial discrimination. According to Azikiwe Calhoun, "The law turns innocent people into criminals based on their ethnicity. Singling out people due to their ethnicity or legal status is a form of injustice. How can the United States call themselves "the leader of the free world" when we set examples such as this? If the Supreme Court rules in favor of SB 1070, it will spell disaster for this nation."
The nation's attention now turns to Obamacare later this week, which will play a major factor in the 2012 election.
Stay tuned and follow along live as PolicyMic continues our live coverage of the health care decision here.