U.S. Supreme Court strikes down key parts of Arizona immigration law

By Sara Wyant

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WASHINGTON, June 25, 2012 - The Supreme Court struck down three of the four main parts of the Arizona immigration law, ruling that the federal government has the sole power to enforce laws against illegal immigration.

However, the court rejected a challenge to the law's most controversial provision, which requires police to conduct immigration checks on individuals they arrest or stop for questioning if they suspect they are in the U.S. illegally. The court ruled that this portion of the law does not appear to violate the Constitution by intruding on the federal government's powers to control immigration. But the justices said further legal challenges to the provision can go forward after that part of the law takes effect.

"The government of the United States has broad, undoubted power over the subject of immigration and the status of aliens," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his opinion for the 5-3 majority, which included Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.

President Barack Obama said he was pleased that the court struck down three of the four provisions and called on Congress to act on comprehensive immigration reform.

U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), who was one of more than 50 members of Congress signed onto a brief filed with the Supreme Court in support of the Arizona law, said he was disappointed with the ruling.

“But it is my hope as we move forward that the federal government and specifically the Obama Administration will begin to enforce the immigration laws currently on the books instead of leaving it up to states like Arizona to solve these very serious issues,” Luetkemeyer said in a statement today.

“This ruling also may provide the kind of guidance the states need to protect their citizens in the future.  We must not forget that although most tax revenues generated by illegal immigrants flow to the federal government, almost all the costs, including those borne by locally funded social services and those caused by illegal immigrant crime, accrue to the states.”

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