Supreme Court Skeptical of Striking Down Arizona’s SB 1070

Arizona argues compellingly that with programs like 287(g) and Secure Communities, SB 1070 merely complements the federal government's existing enforcement agenda.

By Seth Freed Wessler Apr 25, 2012

I’ve just left the Supreme Court arguments over SB 1070. Check back at for more analysis and coverage throughout the week, and [read our SB 1070 primer here]( here). ——- The federal government got beat up today in the Supreme Court and if the Justices’ line of questioning is any sign, at least parts of Arizona’s SB 1070 are likely to stand. In the hearings, which began this morning at 10am and lasted for more than 20 minutes beyond the allotted time of an hour, the justices launched an aggressive line of questioning of the attorneys for the government and the state of Arizona. As a general matter, the majority of the justices were skeptical of the federal government’s claim that Arizona’s SB 1070, which was enjoined soon after it’s passage by a lower court, fully preempts federal authority. Most fundamentally, the justices took issue with the the government’s claim that the state of Arizona cannot mandate its cops to enforce immigration laws and detain undocumented immigrants. The argument here, which was central to Arizona’s appeal, is that the federal government regularly uses local police to detain undocumented immigrants through federal programs like the Secure Communities and 287g, which deputizes local police as immigration agents. Paul Clement, who represented Arizona in the court said, "The Federal Government doesn’t like this statute, but they are very proud of their Secure Communities program. And their Secure Communities program also makes clear that everybody’s that’s booked at participating facilities is — eventually has their immigration status checked." He said Arizona merely, "borrowed the federal standard as its own."