WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court struck down key provisions of Arizona’s crackdown on immigrants today but said a much-debated portion on checking suspects’ status could go forward.
The court did not throw out the state provision requiring police to check the immigration status of someone they suspect is not in the United States legally. Even there, though, the justices said the provision could be subject to additional legal challenges.
The decision upholds the “show me your papers” requirement for the moment. But it takes the teeth out of it by prohibiting police officers from arresting people on minor immigration charges.
The court announced that Thursday would be the last day of rulings this term, which means the decision on President Barack Obama’s landmark health care overhaul probably will come that day.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion for the court that was unanimous on allowing the status check to go forward. The court was divided on striking down the other portions.
The court struck down these provisions: requiring all immigrants to obtain or carry immigration registration papers, making it a state criminal offense for an illegal immigrant to seek work or hold a job and allowing police to arrest suspected illegal immigrants without warrants.
The Obama administration sued to block the Arizona law soon after its enactment two years ago. Federal courts had refused to let the four key provisions take effect.
Five states — Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah — have adopted variations on Arizona’s law. Parts of those laws also are on hold pending the outcome of the Supreme Court case.