Most of Arizona immigration law struck down by Supreme Court
ASSOCIATED PRESS June 25, 2012 12:41PM
Demonstrators stand outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, June 25, 2012. The Supreme Court is meeting Monday to issue opinions in some of the handful of cases that remain unresolved. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Updated: June 25, 2012 12:42PM
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struck down key provisions of border state Arizona’s harsh crackdown on immigrants, one of the most divisive domestic issues separating President Barack Obama from his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
While finding much of the Arizona law unconstitutional, the high court did say that one part would stand — the portion requiring police to check the status of someone they suspect is not in the United States legally. Even there, though, the justices said the provision could be subject to additional legal challenges.
The decision upholds the “show me your papers” provision for the moment. But it takes the teeth out of it by prohibiting police officers from arresting people on minor immigration charges.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion for the court that was unanimous on allowing the status check to go forward. The court was divided on striking down the other portions.
The ruling weakens the drive by Republicans, especially the most conservative in the party, who want to make it more difficult for immigrants who are in the country illegally.
Romney took a tough stand on immigration in the early days of his campaign for the party’s nomination, but, with his place on the presidential ballot all but assured, he has sought to find a more moderate position.
That shift was forced on him after Obama issued an executive order earlier this month that ends deportation of young people who were brought into the country illegally by their parents.
That gave Obama a major boost with already-friendly Hispanic voters, a powerful voting bloc in what looks to be one of the closest presidential races in recent U.S. history.
The court struck down provisions of the Arizona law requiring all immigrants to obtain or carry immigration registration papers, making it a state criminal for an illegal immigrant to seek work or hold a job and allowing police to arrest suspected illegal immigrants without warrants.
The Obama administration sued to block the Arizona law soon after its enactment two years ago. Federal courts had refused to let the four key provisions take effect.
Five states — Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah — have adopted variations on Arizona’s law. Parts of those laws also are on hold pending the outcome of the Supreme Court case.