WHAT DID SUPREME COURT JUSTICE SONIA SOTOMAYOR SAY ABOUT SB 1070?

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

“You are involving the federal government in your prosecution,” the justice said, according to the hearing’s transcript, drawing attention to one class of non-citizens who may not appear in available databases of documented residents.”

(Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

The U.S. Supreme Court’s first Hispanic justice took a lead role in criticizing oral arguments over Arizona’s controversial immigration law. The liberal Sotomayor, President Barack Obama’s first Supreme Court appointee, was most widely quoted for her stinging criticism of the government’s argument that Arizona’s law preempts federal authority over immigration. But her lines of questioning and criticism of Arizona’s rebuttal also indicated skepticism about the most contentious provisions of the state law.

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The questions Sotomayor posed to Paul Clement, the attorney representing Arizona, hinged on what would happen to people detained under SB 1070, as the law is known, who did not readily appear in databases. She noted that some people, like political asylum applicants, may not be registered with the federal government because the process requires them to keep their status private.

AP

“What’s going to happen now is that if there is no statement by the federal agency of legality, the person is arrested, and now we’re going to have federal resources spent on trying to figure out whether they have that, whether they are exempted for this reason, whether the failure to carry was accidental or not,” Sotomayor said. Sotomayor was the only justice to pose questions during Clement’s rebuttal.

AP

The Latina justice also jumped in with the first line of questioning, parsing out how detention processes under suspended provisions of the Arizona law would differ from current practice, and she posed questions highlighting the limitations of current federal databases to check people’s immigration status efficiently after being stopped.

photo Diane Ovalle / Puente Arizona

There is no federal database of authorized residents, only a passport registry, according to U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who is arguing on behalf of the Obama administration. The federal government also checks reports of undocumented immigrants against another eight to10 federal databases, Verrilli said. Hypothetically, then, under the Arizona law a person stopped for an offense and held on suspicion of unlawful residence could wind up in custody for long periods of time, Sotomayor posited. While Sotomayor’s line of questioning indicated skepticism of parts of Arizona’s case, it was her biting criticism of Verrilli’s argument that Arizona’s enforcement of immigration undermined federal authority that caught the most attention.

photo by Diane Ovalle / Puente Arizona

“You can see it’s not selling very well,” Sotomayor said, commenting on a series of both tough questions and outright assertions made by the country’s highest court, where conservatives hold a majority.

Justice Antonin Scalia. Image from Legal Geekery

“Arizona is not trying to kick out anybody that the federal government has not already said do not belong here,” said Justice Antonin Scalia.

Chief Justice Roberts SOURCE: AP/Evan Vucci

The most forceful argument in favor of the controversial immigration law’s provision requiring police to check the immigration status of those they stop came from Chief Justice Roberts.

U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

“It is still your decision,” Roberts told Verrilli. “And if you don’t want to know who is in this country illegally, you don’t have to.”

Read more: FOX NEWS LATINO

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UTAH GOVERNOR SIGNED PACKAGE OF IMMIGRATION REFORM BILLS

 

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On March 15, 2011, Utah Governor Gary Herbertsigned into law a group of bills that reformed the state’s immigration laws that challenged the federal government to take national action. One of the bills required police to check the immigration status of anyone arrested for an alleged felony or serious misdemeanor. The bill was similar to Arizona’s SB 1070 that has been the subject of national debate and federal litigation. The other bills included the implementation of a guest worker program and an initiative that allows American companies and individuals to sponsor foreigners who wish to work or study in the US. The Utah reforms have been challenged by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in the US District Court for the District of Utah, but the court has decided to delay any rulings until the Supreme Court rules on Arizona’s controversial immigration laws.

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CAN SOMEONE EXPLAIN THE THE SCOTUS RULING ON TX REDISTRICTING?

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Basically, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the three-judge court in Texas to redraw congressional and legislative lines using Texas’s own plans as a starting point. The Court held that the three-judge court should deviate from Texas’s maps only if it is likely that parts of the maps violate the Voting Rights Act.

“On the contrary,” the opinion continued, “the state plan serves as a starting point for the district court. It provides important guidance that helps ensure that the district court appropriately confines itself to drawing interim maps that comply with the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act, without displacing legitimate state policy judgments with the court’s own preferences.”

SCOTUS — cited its 1996 decision in Lopez v. Monterey County — said that a District Court may not adopt “as its own” a state plan that needs Washington clearance but does not yet have it. However, the precedents “say nothing about whether a district court may take guidance from the lawful policies incorporated in such a plan for aid in drawing an interim map.” Turning then to its 1982 decision in Upham v. Seamon, the Court said that a district court has a duty to “defer to the unobjectionable aspects of a state’s plan” even in a situation where clearance was sought but had been denied.

The Justices flatly rejected the declaration of the San Antonio court that it was “not required to give any deference” to what the legislature had crafted. The lower court was wrong, the Court added, “to the extent” it “exceeded its mission to draw interim maps that do not violate the Constitution or the Voting Rights Act, and substituted its own concept of ‘the collective public good’ for the Texas legislature’s determination of which policies serve ‘the interests of the citizens of Texas.’ ”Further, the Court wrote, “because the District Court here had the benefit of a recently enacted plan to assist it, the court had neither the need nor the license to cast aside that vital aid.”

As far as Section 5, requiring some states and local governments to get Washington legal approval before they may put into effect any change in their election laws; Justice Thomas spoke for himself citing his belief that it is unconstitutional.

What does this mean? The opinion favors the state’s maps. This decision only affects the interim maps and this is not necessarily a defeat for the redistricting plaintiffs.

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HOW DID THE HEARING IN TEXAS REDISTRICTING BEGIN 2012?

THE HISPANIC BLOG BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

The Supreme Court 2011

The Supreme Court 2011 (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey) License Creative Commons Attribution

The Supreme Court was sharply divided about what to do and reaching for options to deal with a very messy situation.

One option that got a lot of play and seemed attractive to justices on both sides of the court’s ideological spectrum was the possibility of just punting and letting the DC court issue its preclearance ruling, presumably some time in February. The suggestion came first from Justice Alito and later in the argument Justice Sotomayor asked directly, “What’s our absolute drop dead date?”  (Answer: maybe June)  Justice Kagan also raised the possibility.

Another option which came up was the possibility of shifting the burden to the State of Texas for showing that it had a likelihood of success on parts of the map that had been challenged in the section 5 case – a suggestion made by Justice Kagan.

Justice Kennedy also suggested that maybe the appropriate route might be to say that the San Antonio court should limit itself to section 2, equal protection, and other constitutional inquiries while leaving section 5 issues to the DC court (as opposed to having the San Antonio court guess whether there would be problems with the state’s maps).   But the retort to that was that it would sidestep section 5, even if just on an interim basis, and based on the questioning from other justices to the lawyers, it did not appear there would be a broad consensus for that option.

One thing that the justices seemed not very inclined to do was get into the messy business of telling the San Antonio (or future district courts) the details of what it should do on things like coalition districts and population deviations.

The other major thing that did not come up, except for a very brief allusion by the state’s lawyers, was the constitutionality of section 5. However, while the court did not seem interested in taking the issue head on, Justice Kennedy did wrestle publicly on a couple of occasions with how you reconcile the differing treatment of states.

As for the alignment on the court, it largely fell along familiar lines- with the more liberal justices (Sotomayor, Kagan, Breyer, and Ginsburg) having sharp questions about the state’s position and more conservative justices (Scalia, Alito, Roberts, Kennedy) being more skeptical of the plaintiff’s defense of the interim maps, though to differing degrees. (Justice Thomas did not ask any question but given his dissent in NAMUDNO, it can be presumed that he is not very sympathetic to arguments that section 5 prevents use of the state’s maps.)

Let’s just say things keep getting interesting.

Read More: http://txredistricting.org

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