Supreme Court justices appeared to support Arizona today in its efforts to crack down on illegal immigration.
It didn’t help the Obama Administration that Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. choked again in front of the court.
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Several Supreme Court justices on Wednesday voiced support for Arizona’s effort to crack down on illegal immigration, appearing to reject Obama administration arguments that the federal government has sole responsibility for dealing with people who illegally enter the United States.
The conservative justices who hold a majority on the court suggested by their questions and comments that states would have significant latitude to adopt laws that discourage illegal immigrants from moving to and staying in the United States.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who casts the deciding vote in many cases, referred to the “social and economic disruption” that states endure as a result of a flood of illegal immigrants and suggested that states such as Arizona have authority to act.
Arizona two years ago became the first of a half dozen U.S. states to pass laws aimed at driving illegal immigrants elsewhere, including requiring police to check the immigration status of anyone detained and suspected of being in the country illegally.
The battle over the law goes to the heart of the fierce national debate between Democrats and Republicans over what to do with the estimated 11.5 million illegal immigrants in the country, a number that has held steady in recent years.
A decision for Arizona law would be a setback for President Barack Obama, who has criticized it and has vowed to push for immigration legislation if re-elected on November 6.