After Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a restrictive Arizona immigration law, reactions and interpretations from press and public officials were all over the map as both sides declared victory.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, for example, said the nation’s highest court had upheld the “heart” of her state’s law, as Politico and others reported. That heart is Section 2B, the so-called “show me your papers” provision.
The reality wasn’t that simple. Today, immigration attorney Margaret Stock weighs in on the SCOTUSblog, exploring the nuances of the court’s ruling. She concludes that Arizona law officers will have a tough time enforcing the “show me your papers” provision of the law that the court upheld. Stock notes that a majority of justices–including Chief Justice John Roberts–made it clear that they are prepared to give that provision additional constitutional scrutiny if it leads, in practice, to civil rights violations.
Stock thinks that is likely.
“The practical problem now is that Section 2B is difficult to apply in a way that does not violate someone’s rights,” Stock said. ” The Supreme Court suggested that the law could be applied constitutionally if Arizona law enforcement officers merely contacted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) without detaining a person any longer than necessary to carry out a non-immigration-related reason for the stop, detention, or arrest. The Court suggested, however, that Arizona police would be acting unconstitutionally if they detained a motorist at a routine traffic stop longer than necessary to write a ticket.”
Stock is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve Military Police and a former West Point instructor. She has lectured in Bellingham on several occasions. She is based in Anchorage and is affiliated with the Lane Powell law firm.