Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who came out on top of a key decision in her defense of a state law aimed at curbing illegal immigrants, praised the U.S. Supreme Court Monday for taking on a nationally important case.
The high court had agreed to review the U.S. Department of Justice's challenge to Arizona's SB1070, the first in a wave of state laws that attempt to make life inhospitable to illegal immigrants by prohibiting them from seeking work and authorizing law enforcement to determine the status of anyone detained or arrested.
The Justice Department was able to get a preliminary injunction against four of the most onerous parts of Arizona's SB1070. The Obama administration has said federal law preempts state attempts at regulating immigration.
Brewer, a Republican elected to her first full term in 2010, said Arizona had been more than patient waiting for Washington to secure the border. The state was forced to address problems illegal immigrants pose, she has argued.
I am confident the high court will uphold Arizona's constitutional authority and obligation to protect the safety and welfare of its citizens, Brewer said in a statement defending the law. This case is not just about Arizona. It's about every state grappling with the costs of illegal immigration.
The case the Supreme Court accepted Monday will reverberate beyond Arizona's borders. Other states seeking to curb illegal immigration had passed their own versions of SB1070, some of which include harsher provisions.
The Justice Department went after Alabama, South Carolina and Utah for their efforts to pass laws targeting illegal immigrants.
Brewer said she was stunned at the audacity of the Obama administration to sue Arizona in an effort to throw out SB1070.
That shock turned to outrage as the federal government proceeded to file suit against three more states... that followed Arizona's lead, Brewer said.
Arizona Law: New Issues for Supreme Court Justices
These Arizona-style immigration laws will pose new issues to the Supreme Court justices. Two major cases argued before the high court--De Canas v. Bica, decided in 1976, and Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, decided in May--upheld a state's right to regulate illegal immigrants through employment laws.
However, the new wave of state immigration laws goes beyond employment and touches on law enforcement and housing matters. Without an express prohibition blocking states from entering these areas, the Supreme Court will have to decide if Congress intended for federal immigration law to reign.
Brewer said the law she signed April 2010 was crafted to ensure that it could withstand a federal preemption challenge.
I was keenly aware of the need to respect federal authority over immigration-related matters, Brewer said. The legislation authorizes cooperative law enforcement and imposes sanctions that consciously parallel federal law.
A Justice Department spokesperson was not immediately available to comment on the Supreme Court's decision.
The Obama administration's top Supreme Court lawyer, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, had said that the justices would be premature to review the Arizona case, as the Justice Department lawsuits are still making their way through the appeals process.
While the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco last year upheld a preliminary injunction on Arizona's SB1070, Verrilli said in November that there is no reason to think that reviewing this preliminary injunction would resolve the lawsuits against other states.
The provisions in SB1070 currently under an injunction require law enforcement officials to determine the immigration status of anyone detained or arrested; authorize warrantless arrests of any undocumented resident who had committed a public offense; require immigrants to carry documents; and making it a state crime for illegal immigrants to look or accept work.