Justices Will Consider States' Powers on Immigration


The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on Wednesday concerning what is considered to be the nation's toughest immigration law, in Arizona. The question before the high court will have a considerable scope - do a state's statutes usurp federal authority in setting immigration policy?

Arizona's Senate Bill 1070 encourages undocumented immigrants to pack up and leave through something the law calls "attrition through enforcement." SB 1070 expanded the authority of state police officers to ask about the immigration status of anyone they stop, and to hold those suspected of being illegal immigrants. The Obama administration challenged the law and four of the most contentious provisions of the law have already been suspended by federal courts.

The case could lead the Supreme Court to consider long-established boundaries between states and the federal government on immigration issues, which up until now, have been considered a nearly exclusive federal preserve.

To add extra drama to Wednesday's proceedings, the same two lawyers who recently argued the health care case are set to face off once more in the Arizona dispute: Washington appellate lawyer Paul Clement and Solicitor General Donald Verrilli.