The Supreme Court today upheld an Arizona law that penalizes businesses for hiring workers who are in the U.S. illegally. The 5-3 ruling rejected arguments that states have no role in immigration matters, reports the Associated Press. The court majority said federal immigration law gives states the authority to impose sanctions on employers who hire unauthorized workers. Today’s decision applies only to business licenses and does not signal how the justices may rule on the controversial Arizona immigration enforcement law.
Chief Justice John Roberts said the Arizona employer sanctions law “falls well within the confines of the authority Congress chose to leave to the states.” Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Sonia Sotomayor dissented. Justice Elena Kagan did not participate in the case because she worked on it while serving as President Barack Obama's solicitor general. Breyer said the Arizona law upsets a balance in federal law between dissuading employers from hiring illegal workers and ensuring that people are not discriminated against because they may speak with an accent or look like they might be immigrants.