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VICTORY: COURT DECISION ON ARIZONA'S CONTROVERSIAL IMMIGRATION LAW SB1070
By Former Arizona State Senator Karen Johnson
June 30, 2012
June 30, 2012
Many people are unhappy about the June 25th Court decision on Arizona's controversial immigration law (SB1070) and the fact that the Court struck down three out of the four provisions of the bill that had been challenged. Now, if this were a game of tennis or baseball, losing three out of four would be a near defeat. But the ruling on SB1070 is not about sports, and a mere count of the provisions the court affirmed or struck down is not a measure of the success or failure of SB1070. The court's ruling was, in fact, a great victory. There is no cause for mourning over SB1070.
First, it must be understood that SB1070 was a long, complex piece of legislation that ran for 19 pages and involved 10 sections of statute, some of which had multiple provisions in subsections. Some very important sections of SB1070 were never challenged, such as the sections on human smuggling and employee sanctions. Attempts were made early on to challenge Section 2 (a prohibition against "sanctuary cities") and Section 5(a) (streetside solicitation by day workers). But these attempts to thwart SB1070 were fended off in early court proceedings before the suit arrived at the Supreme Court. So, of the 10 sections to the bill, a full six of them, many with multiple provisions, were either in effect from the start or had been exonerated by the time the challenge arrived at the doorsteps of the Supreme Court. That means that 60 percent of SB1070 had already been cleared before June 25. What remained for review by the Supreme Court were all of Sections 3 and 6, and a single piece each of Sections 2 and 5. Section 2(b) was upheld in the June 25th ruling, so comes off the table (70 percent of SB1070's 10 sections now prevailing.). That leaves three items.
Sections 3 and 6 each address a single provision of law, and each were struck down by the Court. But Section 3 isn't absolutely required in order for the states to arrest and detain illegal immigrants; it was just an additional tool. Nice to have, but not a key provision of SB1070. Section 6 was somewhat redundant because states already have authority for that provision and can work around the court's decision. So, losing Sections 3 and 6 is not a fatal blow to SB1070.
Lastly, Section 5 had seven different provisions in it, but only one was challenged. The Court struck it down, so a mere one-seventh of Section 5 was invalidated by the June 25th ruling, while the remaining six-sevenths stood. So, in the end, three small provisions that were not terribly crucial were struck down by the court. In contrast, the most significant provision of SB1070, the one which allows police officers making traffic stops to check for residency status, was upheld. This provision was the heart of SB1070. It was by far the most important part of the bill, the most important item under judicial review, and the one to which the Justices gave the most attention during oral arguments. And that section was upheld unanimously by all eight Justices.
Despite SB1070's near perfect score after two years of attacks by the Left, and despite the puny success of the opponents who were so enraged about the passage of the bill, the media blathered incoherently the day of the decision about how the court "gutted" the bill and overturned nearly all of it. It's hard to know whether such trash reporting merely reflects the usual incompetence of the mainstream media or is an overt attempt to spin the story to cover up a very public defeat of the radical Left. The anti-American Hispanic groups, the Chamber of Commerce, and various other open borders advocates spent two years and a lot of ink trying to kill SB1070 without success. Considering that the lawsuit against SB1070 was brought by the current administration in Washington, then the administration shares with its Leftist friends the sting of defeat in the face of the court's ruling. Our current leaders forsook the Constitution long ago. The court ruling on SB1070 is a stern reminder to them that even kings (and presidents) are not above the rule of law.
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