Arizona v. United States
|Docket No.||Op. Below||Argument||Opinion||Vote||Author||Term|
Apr 25, 2012
|Jun 25, 2012||5-3||Kennedy||OT 2011|
Holding: The lower courts erred in holding that Section 2(B) of Senate Bill 1070 - which requires police to check the immigration status of persons whom they detain before releasing them and which allows police to stop and detain anyone suspected of being an undocumented immigrant – should not go into effect while its lawfulness is being litigated because it is not sufficiently clear that the provision is preempted. Section 3 – which makes it a state crime for someone to be in the United States without proper authorization – is preempted because Congress left no room for states to regulate in that field, or even to enhance federal prohibitions. Section 5(C) -which makes it a state crime for undocumented immigrants to apply for a job or work in Arizona – is preempted as imposing an obstacle to the federal regulatory system. Section 6 – which authorizes state law enforcement officials to arrest without a warrant any individual otherwise lawfully in the country, if they have probable cause to believe that the individual has committed a deportable offense – is preempted because whether and when to arrest someone for being unlawfully in the country is a question solely for the federal government.
Plain English Summary: Arizona had taken the lead, in 2010, in a renewed effort by states to adopt policies that would control many of the aspects of the daily lives of hundreds of thousands of immigrants who had entered the U.S. without legal permission to do so. The law has been challenged by various civil rights groups as a form of racial bias, but that was not an issue before the Supreme Court. The law also had been challenged by the federal government as unconstitutional, on the theory that Arizona was trying to move in on the federal government’s superior power to enforce federal immigration laws. That is the challenge that the Court decided Thursday. In the end, by a vote of 5-3, the Court nullified three of the four provisions because they either operated in areas solely controlled by federal policy, or they interfered with federal enforcement efforts. Nullified were sections making it a crime to be in Arizona without legal papers, making it a crime to apply for or get a job in the state, or allowing police to arrest individuals who had committed crimes that could lead to their deportation. The Court left intact — but subject to later challenges in lower courts — a provision requiring police to arrest and hold anyone they believe has committed a crime and whom they think is in the country illegally, and holding them until their immigration status could be checked with federal officials.
Judgment: Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remaned., 5-3, in an opinion by Justice Kennedy on June 25, 2012. Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito each filed opinions concurring in part and dissenting in part. (Kagan, J., recused)
- Academic highlight: Young on the Roberts Court and preemption (Amanda Frost)
- Online symposium: The Court throws Arizona a tough bone to chew (Margaret Stock - Guest)
- Online symposium: What now, Arizona? (John Eastman)
- Online symposium: A win for the government and for the SG (Andrew Pincus)
- Online symposium: The debate over immigration reform is not over until its over (Kevin Johnson)
- Online symposium: A defeat for the Obama Administration (Richard Samp)
- Opinion recap: Immigration and judicial styles (Lyle Denniston)
- Online symposium: Strong on theory while profiling ignored (Lucas Guttentag)
- S.B. 1070: In Plain English (Amy Howe)
- Online symposium: SCOTUS on AZ Immigration: State sovereignty is the Issue (Jay Sekulow)
- Online symposium: S.B.1070 rides off into the sunset (Marc L. Miller and Gabriel J. Chin)
- Online symposium: Supreme Court (mostly) guts S.B. 1070 (Peter Spiro - Guest)
- Court strikes down much of Arizona immigration law (Kevin Russell)
- Win, lose, or draw? The Arizona v. United States argument in Plain English (with argument audio links) (Amy Howe)
- Argument recap: A choice between radical and reasonable? (Lyle Denniston)
- Court to consider Arizona immigration law: A preview in Plain English (Amy Howe)
- Argument preview: Who controls immigrants' lives? (Lyle Denniston)
- December grants: In Plain English (Amy Howe)
- Another landmark ruling in the offing (Lyle Denniston)
- SCOTUS for law students: Preemption and the Arizona immigration law (Stephen Wermiel)
- Petition of the day (Marissa Miller)
- Arizona appeals on alien control law (Lyle Denniston)
Briefs and Documents
Merits Briefs for the Petitioner
Amicus Briefs in Support of the Petitioner
- Brief of State Senator Russell Pearce
- Brief of State Legislators for Legal Immigration and Individual State Legislators
- Brief of the American Unity Legal Defense Fund
- Brief for Secure States Initiative
- Brief for the Mountain States Legal Foundation
- Brief for the Liberty Legal Foundation
- Brief for Lawrence J. Joyce
- Brief for Freedom Watch
- Brief for the Eagle Forum Education and Legal Defense Fund
- Brief for Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.
- Brief for the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence et al.
- Brief for the Arizona Legislature
- Brief for U.S. Border Control et al.
- Brief for U.S. Reps. Lamar Smith et al.
- Brief for Thomas More Law Center and Center for Security Policy
- Brief for Joseph M. Arpaio, Maricopa County Sheriff
- Brief for Cochise County Sheriff Larry A. Dever
- Brief for Landmark Legal Foundation
- Brief for Members of Congress and the Committee to Protect America’s Border
- Brief for Michigan et al.
Amicus briefs in support of neither party
Merits Briefs in Support of the Respondent
Amicus Briefs in Support of the Respondent
- Brief for the American Bar Association
- Brief for the American Civil Liberties Union et al.
- Brief for the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
- Brief for Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform et al.
- Brief for the Association of the Bar of New York City
- Brief for County of Santa Clara, California et al.
- Brief for the Constitutional Accountability Center
- Brief for Former Arizona Attorneys General
- Brief for Former Commissioners of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service
- Brief for the Greater Houston Partnership
- Brief for Madeleine K. Albright et al.
- Brief for Members of Congress
- Brief for the National Council of La Raza et al.
- Brief for the National Immigrant Justice Center
- Brief for New York et al.
- Brief for State and Local Law Enforcement Officials
- Brief for the United States Conference Of Catholic Bishops et al.
- Brief for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights et al.
- Brief for the Rutherford Institute
- Brief for Service Employees International Union et al.
- Brief for the United Mexican States