Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Did you hear a low rumbling sound this morning around 7:16 a.m. (Arizona time)? That was the sound of the head of every anti-immigrant bigot exploding as the Court announced that most of SB 1070 is preempted by federal law, and the surviving part must be read narrowly and is subject to future constitutional challenges. This is a major victory for the Obama administration, it got almost everything it wanted from the Court.
Monday was the last day the Court was scheduled to release opinions, but it has scheduled Thursday for announcing its remaining opinions this term. The Affordable Care Act will be Thursday.
Here is a quick recap of the opinions announced today. Amy Howe from SCOTUSblog summarizes the cases, followed by a link to today's opinions. The remaining merits cases as of June 23: In Plain English:
Argued April 25, 2012
Plain English Issue: Whether an Arizona law that, among other things, requires police officers to check the immigration status of anyone whom they arrest, allows police to stop and arrest anyone whom they believe to be an illegal immigrant, makes it a crime for someone to be in the state without valid immigration papers, and makes it a crime to apply for or hold a job in Arizona without proper papers, is invalid because it is trumped by federal immigration laws.
The Ninth Circuit is reversed in part and affirmed in part. Justice Kagan did not participate. Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion. 5-3 decision. The opinion in Arizona v. US is here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/11-182b5e1.pdf
The Court rules that Section 3, 5, and 6 are preempted by federal law. Most of the key provisions of SB1070 (3 of 4) are invalidated. Only one provision is held not to be proved preempted.
It was improper for the lower courts to enjoin Section 2(B), which requires police officers to check the legal status of anyone arrested for any crime before they can be released. There are ongoing proceedings on Section 2(B) and whether it involves racial profiling. That issue was NOT before the Court today.
The provision that the Court says is not yet preempted is the "papers please" provision that commands officers to check immigration status. The Court says that it is not clear whether application of this provision will interfere with immigration law.
The upshot of the SB1070 ruling is that, for now, Arizona can apply its "papers please" provision. The Court's opinion is a guide to the State on how to apply that provision without being invalidated.
The opinion also says that today's ruling does not foreclose other preemption and constitutional challenges to the law. The Court's decision on the "papers please" provision strongly suggests it will have to be read narrowly to survive.
Justice Scalia would uphold the Arizona statute in toto. As part of Scalia's statement in dissent, he commented on the president's announcement about suspending deportation of illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children -- something that was not part of the case. This is totally out of bounds on SCOTUS. Scalia is a rogue Justice.
I will have more on the opinion when I have had the chance to read it, and I would like to check commentary from other legal writers.
Argued separately on March 20, 2012
Plain English Issue: Whether a sentence of life without parole for someone who was convicted of murder when he was fourteen violates the Constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.
Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs are reversed in a 5-4 decision. The Court holds that the Eighth Amendment forbids a scheme of life in prison without possibility of parole for juveniles. The opinion in Miller v. Alabama is here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/10-9646g2i8.pdf
The "Felonious Five" summarily reversed the Montana Supreme Court in American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock in a 5-4 per curiam decision, doubling down on their Citizens United v. FEC opinion. There will be no briefing or reargument: Citizens United is John Roberts' legacy. The Per Curiam opinion reversing the decision of the Montana Supreme Court is here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/11-1179h9j3.pdf
UPDATE: Two other election law cases we have been tracking:
Washington State Democratic Central Committee v. Washington State Grange, Docket: 11-1263
Libertarian Party of Washington State v. Washington State Grange, Docket: 11-1266
are not on today's order list granting certiorari. The Court typically does a "clean up" order after the last opinions are announced. We'll see if these legal challenges to Washington State's top-two primary system are granted cert.