Arizona governor: enforcement of immigration law will not violate Constitution

[JURIST] Arizona Governor Jan Brewer [official website] said [press release] Monday she is pleased with the US Supreme Court's decision upholding the a controversial section of Arizona's immigration law [SB 1070, PDF; JURIST news archive] and that she is confident future enforcement will not violate the Constitution. The decision in Arizona v. United States [SCOTUSblog backgrounder; JURIST report], while striking down three sections of the law, upheld section 2(b) which requires police officers to check the immigration status of anyone whom they arrest and allows police to stop and arrest anyone whom they believe to be an illegal immigrant. The case examined the sole issue of whether the provision was preempted by federal law, and the court noted that its decision did not bar challenges based on other constitutional issues. In a statement, Brewer said she was confident that enforcement of the law would not violate the constitution:

We know the eyes of the world will be upon us. We know critics will be watching and waiting, hoping for another opportunity to continue their legal assault against our State. But I have faith in our law enforcement. Our brave men and women in uniform have been trained so that they are able to enforce this law efficiently, effectively and in harmony with the Constitution.
The controversial law, however, already faces civil rights challenges. Earlier this month, a group of Arizona residents argued [JURIST report] before a federal judge for class-action status in a lawsuit challenging the law. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [official website] on Monday announced [press release] that it had raised nearly $9 million to "[fight] the 'corrosive effects' of existing anti-immigrant laws in Arizona." US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] said [press release] Monday he "remain[s] concerned about the impact of Section 2[b]," noting that it is "not a license to engage in racial profiling."

In upholding section 2(B), the Supreme Court found that the section can be construed as a constitutional exercise of state authority, and that "it would be inappropriate to assume 2(B) will be construed in a way that creates a conflict with federal law." The court noted, however, that this decision does not bar other actions against 2(B) and other parts of the law based on different constitutional issues. The court heard final oral arguments [JURIST report] for the case in late April. The key issue was whether certain provisions of the Arizona law intruded in areas reserved by the Constitution for federal regulation. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in December after Arizona asked the high court to weigh in [JURIST reports] on the issue. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld an injunction last April before the law ever took effect, and the US Department of Justice [official website] urged the Supreme Court not to hear the appeal [JURIST report].

 

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