Arizona’s SB 1070, a controversial immigration law that has drawn applause from the right and protest from the left, has been brought before the Supreme Court. While hearing arguments on Wednesday, justices suggested the possibility of leaving some provisions intact while blocking others.
US Solicitor General Donald Verrilli represented the federal government, and apparently sought to have the entire bill declared unconstitutional. His case revolved around the argument that the bill, if allowed to stand, would assume an unacceptable degree of authority over immigration matters, impinging on what he called the federal government’s “exclusive” power on immigration policy.
However, even typically liberal justices expressed skepticism. Justice Sonia Sotomayor stated flatly that Verilli’s arguments were “not selling well,” according to the Los Angeles Times. In particular, the justices were not convinced that it was unconstitutional to require police officers to confirm an individual’s immigration status over the course of a lawful traffic stop.
The justices did single out some provisions for criticism. In particular, they appeared to be concerned over provisions that would make it a crime for immigrants not to carry documents, and also for undocumented immigrants to seek employment. These requirements would extend beyond federal policy, and as such, may be stricken down.
The court’s decision will have important consequences for virtually every state in the nation. “Every state is dealing with immigration,” Ann Morse, program director at the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Immigrant Policy Project, told CNN. Several other states, including Utah, Alabama, Indiana, South Carolina, and Georgia have passed legislation not unlike Arizona’s SB 1070. It seems clear that legislation crafted in other states will almost certainly reflect whatever decision the Supreme Court delivers.