The U.S. Supreme Court indulged in a frenzied spate of judicial rulings this week, in the course of which it knocked down three provisions of a controversial “anti-immigrant” law in Arizona. These provisions granted law enforcement officials sweeping stop-and-search powers, much to the consternation of the Obama administration.

However, the court’s support for a centrepiece of the harsh law known as SB 1070 caused consternation among immigrant groups across the nation who fear other States may follow the example of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and clamp down on immigration.

Landmark rulings

This week, the court will also rule on the landmark health care reform law. It earlier ruled against mandatory life sentences for juvenile prisoners.

On Monday, it confirmed — in a split, 5-to-3 ruling — that it rejected measures aimed at subjecting undocumented immigrants to criminal penalties for seeking work. It also rejected measures requiring immigrants to register with the federal government.

Arrests prevented

Additionally, the court blocked Governor Mr. Brewer’s plan to permit police to arrest individuals without a warrant merely on the suspicion that they may be in the country illegally.

However, the court unanimously upheld the provision that would enable police to check the immigration status of any person they detained — the infamous “show me your papers” law.


President Barack Obama welcomed the court’s action in striking down several provisions of the Arizona law that his administration had fiercely contested, while simultaneously striking a note of caution on the decision to allow the main provision of the law to stand.

Alluding to the possibility that it could lead to racial profiling with negative fallout for Latino citizens in particular, he said in a statement, “I remain concerned about the practical impact of the remaining provision of the Arizona law that requires local law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone they even suspect to be here illegally. No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like.”

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