Supreme Court Considers Arizona Law – S.B. 1070

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of portions of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, S.B. 1070, on April 25, 2012. As many MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers are aware, S.B. 1070 was partially blocked on April 11, 2011 by a federal appeals court. Thereafter, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. Both the Petitioner and Respondent filed briefs and the matter was set for oral argument on April 25, 2012.


As explained in our earlier article, Appeals Court Upholds Injunction on Controversial Arizona Law (22.Apr.2011), available on MurthyDotCom, the Arizona law provides state and local law enforcement authority regarding immigration issues and undocumented foreign nationals. The United States sued the state of Arizona prior to the effective date of the law, arguing that it was unconstitutional because the law violated the Supremacy Clause of the United States. This topic was discussed in our article, Federal Government Sues Arizona Over Immigration Law (09.Jul.2010). The case was appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which opined that the evidence presented amounted to an unconstitutional preemption by the State of Arizona of the federal government’s power to regulate the immigration laws of the United States. The 9th Circuit’s decision was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Issues: State Control Over Immigration Enforcement

The core of the controversy regarding S.B. 1070 is the extent of permissible state involvement in the federal issue of immigration control. The S.B. 1070 provisions in question involve both making it a state crime to be present in Arizona without proper immigration status, as well as providing expansive police powers to question and detain those believed to be present in Arizona without immigration status.

During oral arguments, court observers report having the impression that the majority of the Court was siding more with Arizona than with the challenge from the U.S. government. This preliminary opinion is based upon questions and comments by certain Supreme Court Justices. However, there are four clauses at issue, and it is possible that some, but not all of these clauses will be found to be constitutional.


The Court may take several months or more to issue a written opinion in this matter. It is likely that further challenges to the law will continue, as the case before the Supreme Court only addresses portions of this law.

This case is important, even to legal immigrants and U.S. born readers, as it involves state and local police powers to question immigration status and detain those suspected of not being documented. There are substantial concerns about the misuse of this power, and the detention of those who, in the opinion of a state or local police officer, may appear to not belong in the United States. We at the Murthy Law Firm will continue to monitor the Supreme Court’s action on S.B. 1070, as we await the decision from the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.