Court Strikes Down Much of AZ Immigration Law, Backs Police Checks


In a split decision, the Supreme Court today rejected much of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, but upheld a key provision on police checking suspects’ immigration status, the Washington Post reports. The court, in an opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy ruled that Arizona cannot make it a misdemeanor for immigrants to fail to carry identification that says whether they are in the U.S. legally; cannot make it a crime for undocumented immigrations to apply for a job; and cannot arrest someone based solely on the suspicion that the person is in this country illegally. Three justices issued partial dissents.

The court upheld the part of the law that requires police to check the immigration status of anyone they detain, if there is “reasonable suspicion” that the person is unlawfully in the United States. Even there, the justices said the provision could be subject to additional legal challenges. The 5-3 decision is likely only the first of many legal rulings to come on immigration, as states increasingly are defining a new role for themselves in combatting the illegal entry of people into the U.S. The Arizona law has spawned similar efforts in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah, all of which have been challenged in court.

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