Supreme court strikes parts of Arizona immigration law

Published: Monday, June 25 2012 10:19 a.m. MDT

Rosa Maria Soto, right, and Maria Durand, both from Arizona, cheer as they react to the United States Supreme Court decision regarding Arizona's controversial immigration law, SB1070, comes down at the Arizona Capitol Monday, June 25, 2012, in Phoenix. The Supreme Court struck down key provisions of Arizona’s crackdown on immigrants Monday but said a much-debated portion on checking suspects’ status could go forward.

Ross D. Franklin, Associated Press

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down parts of the Arizona immigration law, holding that only the federal government can impose sanctions. But it provisionally upheld the most controversial provision, which requires background checks of suspected illegals. While the decision does allow the background check, it puts strict limits on how long suspects can be detained and what they can do about it.

The Court did not uphold the legality of the background check, per se. Rather, it ruled that the 9th Circuit acted prematurely in striking it down, and left the question open to future challenges.

"The Court held that the lower courts were wrong to prevent this provision from going into effect while its lawfulness is being litigated," wrote Kevin Russell at SCOTUSblog. "It was not sufficiently clear that the provision would be held preempted, the Court held. The Court took pains to point out that the law, on its face, prohibits stops based on race or national origin and provides that the stops must be conducted consistent with federal immigration and civil rights laws. However, it held open that the provision could eventually be invalidated after trial."

Three other provisions were struck down as conflicting with federal authority. The state is not allowed to (1) make it a crime to be in the country illegally, (2) ban illegals from working in the state, or (3) arrest without a warrant illegals suspected of a crime.

U.S. Supreme Court ruling: Arizona v. United States

Related: Players in disputes over Arizona's immigration law

Background: Utah awaits Supreme Court immigration decision on Arizona

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