SB 1070: Supreme Court keeps Arizona waiting

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by Catherine Holland

Video report by Dave Cassidy, Belo Washington Bureau

Posted on June 21, 2012 at 8:20 AM

Updated Thursday, Jun 21 at 9:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- The nation continues to wait for the Supreme Court's rulings on arguably two of the biggest, most complex cases before it this session, one of which will have a profound effect on Arizona.

People throughout the state are anxiously waiting to hear what the justices have to say about SB 1070, Arizona's touch immigration law.

There was some thought that the Supreme Court would release its decision Monday. When that didn't happen, Thursday became the next opportunity. Now the much-anticipated ruling could come either Monday or next Thursday.

The justices reportedly already made their decision, but the issue is complex and there are many factors, including politics, that going into writing and polishing the final opinion.

While rulings are made public on set days, the court remains mum on exactly which opinions it will be releasing until 7 a.m.

Arizona time on those days. There's simply no way of knowing ahead of time what decisions will be addressed.

In a speech at the American Constitution Society's national convention last week, featured speaker Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg put it quite succinctly.

"At the Supreme Court, those who know don't talk and those who talk don't know," she said.

Ginsburg, who was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by then President Bill Clinton, also pointed out that this session has not been an easy one.

"The term has been more than usually taxing, some have called it the term of the century," she told conference attendees.

The other issue the Supreme Court will be ruling on is "Obamacare."

Check in Monday to see what happens. We'll know by 7 a.m.

SB 1070 -- 2 years and waiting

Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB 1070, authored by recalled state Sen. Russell Pearce, into law two years ago, touching off a series of protests and legal battles.

The strictest anti illegal-immigration law in the country, SB 1070 went into effect in late July 2010, but only partially. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked several key components of the law.

On April 25, the court heard arguments on the sections of the controversial law that were put on hold by the lower courts. Those include:

- The section requiring non-citizens to carry "alien registration papers" at all times;

- The provision allowing the state of Arizona the authority to prosecute for the crime of illegal immigration, currently a federal crime;

- The section requiring police officers in Arizona to ask suspected criminals or traffic violators about their immigration status, when they have "reasonable suspicion" that the person is here illegally;

- The provision making it a crime for undocumented immigrants to seek work or apply for jobs.

Protesters gathered both in Washington and in Arizona as justices heard attorneys for both sides argue their points.

Arizona contends that with its 370-mile border with Mexico, it has paid a disproportionate price for illegal immigration. It says its 2010 law is consistent with federal immigration policy.

The administration says the law, and Arizona's approach of maximum enforcement, conflict with a more nuanced federal immigration policy that seeks to balance national security, law enforcement, foreign policy, human rights and the rights of law-abiding citizens and immigrants.

Once the opinion is released

Arizona's Hispanic community is naturally particularly interested in the Supreme Court's decision.

"They want to know how 1070 will be implemented and affect their rights," said Daniel Rodriguez of Somos America. "And we also have a lot of citizens who want to know if they'll have to carry papers now."

Expecting many questions as soon as the Supreme Court decision is announced, a group called Respect-Respeto will be staffing a phone bank. That phone number is 1-855-RESPETO (1-855-737-7386).

Associated Press writer Mark Sherman and azfamily.com's Jared Dillingham contributed to this report.

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