Thursday, May 26, 2011

AZ Employer Sanctions Law Upheld by US Supreme Court

This is not directly related to SB1070 but theories abound that the 5 who voted to uphold Arizonas Employer Sanctions Law (all employers in the state of Arizona must use e-Verify or they could lose their business license) would also vote to uphold SB1070.

(have to click the link and read it at the washington times or else they'll sue me for copyright infringement. heh.)

In a weighty case with far-reaching implications, the Supreme Court on Thursday upheld an Arizona law that requires all businesses to check to make sure new workers are in the country legally — and in the process signaled the states can have a greater say on immigration issues.

The 5-3 ruling did not directly address a second Arizona law that granted police broader powers to check immigrants’ status and set off nationwide protests by immigrant rights groups last year. But the decision does touch on many of the same issues of federal versus state authority, and seemed to show an openness by a majority of justices to action by the states.

Kris W. Kobach, a lawyer who helped write both laws and who last year won election to be Kansas’ secretary of state, said the decision signals the court majority could look favorably on the far more contentious 2010 Arizona law, known as SB 1070.

“The Supreme Court today said that as long as the state relies upon federal definitions of immigration status and relies upon federal determinations of any particular alien’s status, then that state is not in conflict with federal law. That is exactly what SB 1070 does,” he said.

He said the court also signaled it will set a high threshold before ruling that a state law conflicts with federal law.

At issue in Thursday’s ruling was whether Arizona can require businesses to use E-Verify, a voluntary program the federal government offers businesses to check whether their job applicants are work-eligible. The Obama administration and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the requirements went too far.

But Chief Justice John G. Roberts, writing the majority opinion, said that while federal law makes the checks voluntary, it does not specifically bar states from making them mandatory. Because Arizona’s law doesn’t impose criminal penalties and deals only with businesses’ licenses, it doesn’t impinge on federal authority.

“Arizona’s procedures simply implement the sanctions that Congress expressly allowed the states to pursue through licensing laws,” the chief justice wrote. “Given that Congress specifically preserved such authority for the states, it stands to reason that Congress did not intend to prevent the states from using appropriate tools to exercise that authority.”

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