The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struck down key parts of an Arizona law that sought to deter illegal immigration, but let stand a controversial provision allowing police to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws.
In a decision sure to ripple across the political landscape in a presidential election year, the court’s 5-3 ruling upheld the authority of the federal government to set immigration policy and laws.
“The National Government has significant power to regulate immigration,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. “Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration while that process continues, but the State may not pursue policies that undermine federal law.”
It’s worth noting that the lone provision that was upheld, the so-called “papers please” provision, could still be overturned at some point depending on how that provision is implemented in Arizona. The court essentially said that if police stop someone properly or are investigating a legitimate crime, it was perfectly proper to at least check an immigration status and then consult with federal officials.
No matter how Republicans attempt to spin today’s ruling, the Supreme Court’s decision was a clear victory for the Obama Administration.