The “show me your papers” provision of Arizona’s tough immigration enforcement law is most familiar to the public. It is also likely to withstand judicial scrutiny.
But it is only one of four provisions at issue in the most watched Supreme Court immigration case in at least 10 years. If the court strikes down any of the other parts of Arizona’s law, like its ID requirements or warrantless arrests, it will be a clear signal to states frustrated by immigration problems that there are limits to their authority.
(RELATED: Little Sympathy for Feds' Argument from Court)
In Wednesday’s oral argument, Supreme Court justices showed little sympathy for the federal government’s complaint that state police officers would violate federal immigration jurisdiction if they check the status of someone they pull over. That argument is recognized by legal analysts to be the weakest in the government’s case against the Arizona statute.
Justice Antonin Scalia all but laughed the federal government’s lawyer out of the courtroom when he suggested that Arizona police officers would somehow deter the federal government from enforcing immigration by calling federal officials to ask about a person they stop. “Arizona isn’t trying to kick out anybody that the federal government hasn’t already said doesn’t belong here,” he said. “The Constitution recognizes that there is such a thing as state borders and a state can police their borders.”
(PICTURES: Scenes from the Court)