Next month, the court will hear an emergency appeal from Texas that questions the role of federal courts in overseeing the deeply partisan issue of political redistricting. And in March, the court has scheduled 51
2 hours of oral arguments over the constitutionality of President Obama’s health-care overhaul.
All will be decided before the court breaks for its summer recess and as the 2012 presidential and congressional campaigns move into high gear.
Health care and immigration have been among the most contentious issues on the political landscape, and they sharply separate Obama from the Republicans who want his job.
The administration successfully challenged the Arizona law as an imposition on immigration powers belonging solely to federal authorities. But the court apparently disagreed with the administration’s contention that review of the lower-court decisions was not warranted at this time.
The Justice Department said the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco was correct to rule that Arizona was trying to take on a federal immigration role.
The appeals court blocked four elements of the new law: making it a state crime to be in the country illegally and failing to register with the federal government; making it illegal to seek work or to be working when not authorized; requiring state and local officers to try to determine the status of someone arrested, stopped or detained if they believe the individual might be in the country unlawfully; and allowing the warrantless arrest of anyone who they have probable cause to believe might have violated laws that would make them deportable under federal law.
Arizona told the justices in asking them to accept the case that more than half of all illegal immigrants enter through the state and that “the Ninth Circuit decision suggests that there is almost nothing Arizona can do to supplement the inadequate federal efforts.”
The state told the justices that its efforts were intended to cooperate with federal laws to control illegal immigration, not to usurp the federal government’s power.
When Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed S.B. 1070 in April 2010, she described it as a way for Arizona to “solve a crisis we did not create and the federal government has refused to fix.”
In a statement Monday, Brewer commended the court for accepting the case and said she was “stunned at the audacity of the Obama administration to file suit” against Arizona and other states that passed restrictive laws.
“Arizona has been more than patient waiting for Washington to secure the border,” Brewer said. “Decades of federal inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation, and states deserve clarity from the Court in terms of what role they have in fighting illegal immigration.”