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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Supreme Court Takes Up Arizona Immigration Law

Members of the public line up outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, as the court held a hearing on Arizona's immigration law. (AP)

Because Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself, just eight justices of the U.S. Supreme Court hear arguments Wednesday for and against Arizona’s tough anti-immigration law.

Four provisions of the law are in question:

  • A “show me your papers” provision that requires police to question a person’s immigration status if police, while enforcing other laws, suspect the person is undocumented
  • Provisions making it a state crime to be in the state and work in the state while undocumented
  • A provision allowing police to arrest anyone without warrants if police suspect that person committed a crime, even in another state

Lower courts have sided with the Obama administration, which sued the state over Arizona’s law, claiming that federal immigration policys trumps state law.

Arizona claims its law merely enables the state to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement, which it claims has not been effective.

Jonathan Turley, George Washington University law professor, says the outcome in the Arizona case “doesn’t look good” for the Obama administration, but he suspects they want to lose the case, in order to win the White House.

The case will be argued by the same lawyers who argued for and against President Obama’s health care reform legislation. Rulings in both cases are expected by June, as the presidential campaigns begin to kick into high gear for national conventions.

Turley calls this Supreme Court term the most significant term in the history of the court in defining federalism.


  • Jonathan Turley, George Washington University law professor

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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