Opponents and proponents of Alabama’s controversial immigration law both claimed victory after Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s immigration law.
Supporters of the law said the ruling recognized the state’s right to enforce immigration laws, while working with federal authorities. Opponents said the ruling clearly indicated the federal government has the ultimate authority to enforce immigration laws and state’s cannot pass laws that undermine that authority.
In the decision, which has significant implications for Alabama, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out three of four provisions in Arizona’s immigration law while upholding a section allowing law enforcement to check the status of those they have “reasonable suspicion” of being in the country illegally.
The court struck down provisions of Arizona’s immigration law that make it a state misdemeanor to be in the country unlawfully and for an unauthorized alien to seek work in the state, versions of which made it into Alabama’s law.
The court also threw out a provision authorizing law enforcement to arrest without warrant individuals the officer suspects has committed “a public offense that makes the person removable from the United States.” That provision was not in Alabama’s law.
“The National government has significant power to regulate immigration,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy, speaking for the five member majority. “With power comes responsibility, and the sound exercise of national power over immigration depends on the Nation’s meeting its responsibility to base its laws on a political will informed by searching, thoughtful, rational civic discourse.”
Kennedy’s opinion tended to support federal supremacy in areas of immigration enforcement.