OC Political

A right-of-center blog covering local, statewide, and national politics

Broader Implication of the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Arizona’s Immigration Law

Posted by Peggy Huang on April 25, 2012

Today, the Supreme Court heard oral argument regarding the constitutionality of the Arizona’s immigration law.  The central issue is whether preemption could prevent states from promulgating laws and regulations in the sphere traditionally considered under the federal jurisdiction.  Judging from Justices Anthony Kennedy and Sonia Sotomayors’ comments, it appears that the Supreme Court is not persuaded by the Obama Administration’s argument that because immigration is under the federal jurisdiction, the states cannot enact laws to protect themselves even if the federal government had failed to enforce its own laws.  Justice Sotomayor found the Solicitor General’s argument confusing and that his argument was not going well before the Court.

While the Supreme Court’s decision affects whether states could enact and enforce its own immigration law, I believe that the broader implication of the Court’s decision will be on the issue of what legal recourse could be pursued when government officials fail to fulfill their constitutional duties to enforce the laws that they disagree with.  What comes to my mind is the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision to send the Proposition 8 case back to the California Supreme Court on the issue of whether the proponents of Proposition 8 has standing to argue the constitutionality of Proposition 8 in federal courts when government officials (i.e. former Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown) refused to defend Proposition 8 in federal courts.  While the California Supreme Court’s decision to give standing to the proponents of Proposition 8 was based on the idea that if government officials could decide not to enforce voters-passed laws because the government officials disagree with the law, then the populist idea of referendums and propositions would be rendered meaningless.

Here, if the Supreme Court finds that Arizona could enact immigration laws to protect its border, the legal door is ajar to permit states to enact laws in areas where the federal government refuses to enforce, or in states where ordinary citizens could pass laws via propositions, citizens could pass laws without fearing that they have no legal recourse if their elected officials refuse to uphold the laws.

One Response to “Broader Implication of the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Arizona’s Immigration Law”

  1. met00 said

    The Feds messed up on this one. They brought the wrong case to court. They should have waited until implementation and then brought it to court on unequal enforcement of the law. After six months there would be sufficient evidence to show that not one Canadian was ever stopped and questioned.

    We all know the law was intended only to be enforced on brown people, the Feds should have waited until they actually did it, and then shut down the raciest piece of crap legislation.

    The actual case this would affect is if CA votes to deregulate and legalize cannabis. If the laws flow upwards from the States to the Feds, and CA votes to legalize cannabis can the Feds enforce Federal law that conflicts with State law when the State has not actually done anything that could be considered “wrong” other than choosing to not enforce a Federal law within the borders of the State?

    There the argument might be the Interstate commerce clause, but just because there is the farming of cannabis in CA doesn’t mean that the product is being grown for out-of-state distribution. The question of that case making it past the SCOTUS is actually very questionable. It would get worse for the Feds id the SCOTUS were to decide that any State had the right to demand that non US citizens who were in the State were to be apprehended and held for deportation by the Feds.

    Again, the argument before the SCOTUS is on the rights of the State to enforce, or not enforce, Federal legislation and at what level they can or can not do so.

    Your reading of Prop 8 is a stretch. The State HAD to defend the law that the people passed to the best of it’s ability (even if the State disagreed with the law), but it did NOT have to appeal the decision of the court. That option is the States, no mater how bad those that funded the law may wish it were otherwise.Those that wanted the State to appeal the decision may have funded the proposition and the question is; “does paying for the proposition make them a special class with standing to represent the People of California?” This opens a whole different can of worms. If the Koch brothers poured a ton of money into a proposition to drill for oil off our beaches in spite of local governments, does their buying the vote to get the law passed give them the standing to defend the law that they paid to pass? In other words, who actually represents the people? The State, or the people that put out the cash?

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