WASHINGTON (June 25, 2012)—The U.S. Supreme Court Monday struck down key provisions of Arizona's crackdown on immigrants, but said that one part of the law requiring police to check the status of someone they suspect is not in the United States legally could go forward.
Even there, though, the justices said the provision could be subject to additional legal challenges.
An Arizona immigrant rights group said Monday it wasn’t surprised by the ruling.
Puente Arizona director Carlos Garcia said the organization expected the high court to uphold the provision of the law that requires police to check the status of someone suspected to be in the U.S. illegally.
He said Puente will begin reaching out to law enforcement about how they will enforce the law
Garcia said President Barack Obama can put an end to this by having Immigration and Customs Enforcement cease working with Arizona law enforcement.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer called the decision a victory for all Americans, however.
Although the court struck down key provisions of the statute, Brewer said Monday the heart of the law requiring police to check the status of someone they suspect is not in the U.S. legally can now be enacted.
Brewer says law enforcement agencies that use the law to violate a person's civil rights will be held accountable.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry called the ruling a victory, as well.
“But,” he said, “today’s ruling is one step forward and two steps back – simply not good enough. It is bad enough that the Obama administration picks and chooses which laws it wishes to enforce, but for the United States Supreme Court to deprive states of some of those powers that are, in the words of Justice Scalia, ‘the defining characteristic[s] of sovereignty,’ is insulting to the Constitution and our right to govern ourselves.
“The people of Arizona took action consistent with federal law and in direct response to the failure of this administration to secure our nation’s borders. The absence of federal action on immigration enforcement directly spoils the integrity of our nation’s laws.”
The president said he was pleased the court struck down key parts of the law, but still concerned by what the high court left intact.
"No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like,” he said.
He said police in Arizona should not enforce the provision in a way that undermines civil rights.
Mr. Obama said the ruling makes clear that Congress should work with him on a comprehensive fix to illegal immigration.
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Monday states have both a duty and a right to secure their borders even as he called for a bipartisan national immigration strategy.
Romney did not address the merits of the Supreme Court's decision, but used it as an opportunity to criticize President Barack Obama for inaction on immigration reform until recently.
The National Immigration Law Center called Monday’s decision disappointing, but said it plans to go back to federal court to prevent the surviving "show me your papers" provision, which requires police to check the status of someone they suspect is in the U.S. illegally.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the decision opens the door to racial profiling.
The Nevada Democrat said the high court was right to strike down most of Arizona's immigration law, but said he is concerned that the high court upheld one provision that requires police to check immigration papers of people they stop for other violations, which he predicted "will lead to a system of racial profiling."
The court will issue its last opinions on Thursday, including an expected decision on President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law.
The court will begin its summer recess after announcing its decisions, with health care topping the list of undecided cases.
The court also still has to decide cases on lying about military medals and real estate kickbacks.
The court Monday also decided that sentencing juveniles to life in prison without possibility of parole qualified as a "cruel and unusual" punishment.
After Thursday, the justices won't meet publicly again in the Supreme Court until the first Monday in October.