The crucial point in Mark Krikorian’s post on the Supreme Court’s Arizona immigration ruling is exactly right — “the core of the law was upheld.” According to the New York Times (“Supreme Court Upholds Key Part of Arizona Law,”) “the court was unanimous” on allowing police to check the immigration status of “people they stop and suspect are not in the United States legally.”
The Obama administration argued vigorously against the law, and particularly against the provision of the right of police to check the legal status of people that they come into contact with on routine stops, who they have reason to believe are not in the country legally. The court struck down 5–3 (Scalia, Thomas, Alito dissenting, Kagan recused) other provisions in the law that make it against Arizona state law for illegal immigrants to apply for a job or fail to carry identification that says whether they are in the U.S. legally. These provisions are, according to the court majority, preempted by federal law. Clearly, these other provisions seem rather minor compared to the police check on immigration status, which was upheld, I repeat, unanimously. The Washington Post (“Supreme Court rejects much of Arizona immigration law”) calls the court ruling a “partial victory” for the Obama administration. It looks more like a defeat for Obama and a win for Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and immigration enforcement.