John Roberts on Immigration
Supreme Court Justice (nominated by Pres. George W. Bush 2005)
Voted with liberals on Arizona immigration case
Two of the 28 cases from which Elena Kagan was recused ended with the Court deadlocked four to four after briefing and oral argument. There was speculation that Justice Kagan's recusal may have played a role in the outcome of another important case
last Term, involving Arizona's controversial immigration law, S.B. 1070. On June 25, the Court, by a vote of five to three, ruled that three of the four provisions at issue in the case were preempted by federal law.
The deciding vote in Arizona v. United States arguably belonged to the Chief Justice, who joined Justice Kennedy and the Court's more liberal members, Justices Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor.
Several commentators were surprised by the Chief Justice's vote and suggested that he may have joined the majority to avoid having the case end in a tie vote.
Source: ScotusBlog.com, "SCOTUS for law students"
, Oct 9, 2012
AZ may revoke licenses for hiring unauthorized aliens.
Justice Roberts wrote the Court's decision on CHAMBER OF COMMERCE v. WHITING on May 26, 2011:
The 1986 federal Immigration Reform and Control Act forbids state governments from sanctioning employers who hire "unauthorized aliens." The 2007 Legal Arizona Workers Act authorizes State courts to suspend and revoke State-issued licenses, charters, etc. for businesses that knowingly hire "unauthorized aliens." The AZ law also requires employers to use the federal E-Verify system to determine the work eligibility of all employees.
HELD:Delivered by Roberts; joined by Scalia, Kennedy, Alito & ThomasThe federal law allows States to take licensing action. The word "license" includes the many forms of legal permission to perform an act, and therefore includes charters, articles of incorporation, etc. The AZ law relies only on determinations made by federal authorities of employment eligibility, and allows employers the same good faith defense as in federal law. Employers, in fact, must use the E-Verify system provided by the federal government.
DISSENT #1:Breyer dissents; joined by GinsburgThe AZ law intrudes on Congress's balancing of
The meaning of "licensing" in the immigration law was never intended to mean every form of business permit that a State might issue, but only in regards to licensed employment agencies. Also, E-Verify is error prone and may not be relied upon.
- immigration enforcement
- burdens on employers, and
- prevention of discrimination.
DISSENT #2:Sotomayor dissentsThis one poorly drafted clause in the federal immigration statute was only meant to allow States to take action against business licenses AFTER a successful federal government prosecution of a business for hiring an unauthorized alien. The AZ law runs contrary to the uniformity and expertise in enforcement of immigration law that Congress intended by allowing only federal officials to prosecute and rule upon civil and criminal cases.
Kagan recused herself.
Source: Supreme Court case 11-WHITING argued on Dec 8, 2010
Page last updated: Jun 09, 2017