SCOTUS Speaks…

The world’s abuzz concerning the new rulings from the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). Arizona’s Immigration Law 1070 was up for clarification as to its constitutionality.

Arizona 1070 has had some major points disallowed by the court as of today. Certain mandates requiring officers to ask questions of an investigative nature were placed in question. SCOTUS now says an officer is REQUIRED, during routine stops, to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect could be in the country illegally. Other aspects of the ruling made it a criminal act for undocumented immigrants to seek employment without work permits. They would also be required to carry their immigration papers. Police could have arrested anyone they suspected to have committed a deportable offense. This was disallowed. Without the latter provision, the requirement to conduct routine immigration checks has little enforcement power behind it.

All of this would be based on a reasonable suspicion an officer developed based on his experience, training and the over-arching circumstances of the individual case.

Three other provisions of the law were struck down. Justice Kennedy said: “the federal government has significant power to regulate immigration and while Arizona may have significant frustrations they may NOT have policies that undermine Federal Law.” (CNN)

Justice Kennedy said there were major differences to be evaluated between the status of a family, illegally entered into this country and trying to make a living, and the dangers of illegally entering drug smugglers or violent human traffickers. While he sided with the majority he noted that: “the pervasiveness of federal regulations does not diminish the importance of immigration policy to the States. Arizona bears many of the consequences of unlawful immigration.”

SCOTUS ruled a 14 year old juvenile MAY NOT be mandatorily sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. It found the law in question to be cruel and unusual and the juvenile should be allowed to apply for parole at some time in their life. This ruling was based on a 5-4 vote with Justice Kennedy as the swing vote.

SCOTUS also upheld their ruling stating the relaxed limits of corporate campaign contributions were acceptable. SCOTUS ruled Montana’s upholding of their state restrictions was not constitutional.

The Supreme Court has reaffirmed its two-year-old decision relaxing limits on corporate campaign spending. The justices on Monday reversed a Montana court ruling upholding state restrictions by a 5-4 vote. This affirmed the court’s ruling on Citizens United (2010) which dealt with state campaign finance laws. Citizens United said corporate and labor union interests’ right to spend freely and openly was allowed as a point of advocacy for or against any/all candidates for state and local offices.

These cases were matters of general divisiveness both in the states involved and as a matter of platform politics on the national scene. The question is being asked as this is written; “who won”? The answers have yet to be fully understood. Each party has a group of “spin masters” ready to proclaim the findings are a generalized win for American People.

The Obama Administration will say they won because 3 out of 4 provisions of Arizona 1070 were struck down. Arizona is already reacting by claiming a victory because Arizona Law Enforcement Officers are commanded to determine the immigration status of an individual already stopped/apprehended with reasonable suspicion the person may be in this country illegally. While all of this is capable of presenting a new set of court challenges, it keeps the issue alive for state and national politicians removed from the costs and effects of illegal immigration. It’ll be interesting.

Partisan politics will keep this issue on the front burner for a long time to come. And the issues of the Obama Administration’s inertia where it applies to this matter will prove an ignition point in the future. Obama can say: “see I fought for you all (immigrants)”. The Republicans can now pummel Obama with his refusal to consider the wishes of people most closely affected and impacted by illegal immigrants on the economic level as well as the social and welfare planks.

This will now get really interesting as elections approach.

Thanks for listening.



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