Court Strikes Down Some – But Not All – of Arizona Immigration Law

The United States Supreme Court struck down a number of provisions of Arizona’s controversial immigration laws, but kept intact the most contentious one.

From striking down a number of provisions of Arizona’s controversial immigration law to ruling that it is unconstitutional for states to require juveniles convicted of murder to be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole, the United States Supreme Court issued rulings Monday on key cases.

Though the court ruled three portions of Arizona's controversial immigration law were unconstitutional, justices still allowed one of the most divisive provisions, which allows Arizona’s state and local police to check the immigration status of people they stop if a "reasonable suspicion" exists that the person is in the country illegally.

The court ruled that Arizona had overstepped its authority by making it a state crime to target illegal immigrants. The justices also struck down a provision that made it a state crime for illegal immigrants not to carry registration papers and another created a crime for soliciting work. The third portion of the law struck down allowed state and local police to arrest illegal immigrants without a warrant in some cases.

In a statement, President Obama said he was pleased that the court had struck down parts of the Arizona immigration law. But he said he remained “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."
The court’s decision, written by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, was 5-3. Justice Elena Kagan was recused because of her earlier work as solicitor general. Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr., Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

In a separate case, the court ruled 5-4 that juveniles can no longer be convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

“We hold that mandatory life without parole for those under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on 'cruel and unusual punishment,'" said Kagan in the opinion for the majority.
She was joined in that opinion by Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Alito dissented.

"Neither the text of the Constitution or our precedent prohibits legislatures from requiring that juvenile murderers be sentenced to life without parole," Roberts said.

In Miller vs. Alabama, the decision was a result of the robbery and murder cases involving Evan Miller and Kuntrell Jackson, who were 14 when they were convicted. Miller was convicted of killing a man in Alabama. Jackson was convicted of being an accomplice in an Arkansas robbery that ended in someone else committing murder.


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(Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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