Yesterday, we got one step closer to getting the final answer to that question when a federal appeals court (the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals) ruled to uphold an earlier decision by a lower federal court which blocked Arizona's immigration law from taking effect.
Per AZ Central:
"The Arizona statute before us has become a symbol," Judge John Noonan wrote.
"For those sympathetic to immigrants to the United States, it is a challenge and a chilling foretaste of what other states might attempt. For those burdened by unlawful immigration, it suggests how a state could tackle that problem. It is not our function, however, to evaluate the statute as a symbol. We are asked to assess the constitutionality."
Two of the three judges on the panel are staunch conservatives appointed by Republican presidents, and some legal experts say the court's extensive analysis of constitutional questions could predict the downfall of the nation's toughest immigration law.
The ruling in the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice comes nearly a year after Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law. It supports an injunction issued in July by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton on the basis that immigration is the bailiwick of the federal government, not individual states.
So what does this mean going forward?
Well, one thing to keep in mind is that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (which is the federal appeals court for the ENTIRE west coast) has a notorious reputation in the legal community for being the Court that is overturned the most by the Supreme Court. And the reason why it is overturned on so many cases is that the 9th Circuit is one of the most liberal Courts in America and it sometimes allows some liberal bias to color some of its decisions.
However, that doesn't appear to be the case here. As noted above in the quote from AZ Central, this particular panel of 9th Circuit judges was actually made up of one Dem (Judge Richard Paez) and 2 Republicans: Judge John Noonan and Judge Carlos Bea. So there certainly can be no claim of liberal bias in the opinion.
Lastly, everybody assumes that the Supreme Court will take the case but it's important to remember that of the thousands of cases that petition the Supreme Court each year, the Supreme Court literally refuses to hear 99% of them. If this case doesn't manage to become one of the lucky 1%, then the 9th Circuit's decision will automatically become the last word on Arizona's immigration law.
Should States require their police officers to check immigration status?
Do you agree with the 9th Circuit that the States are precluded by federal law here?
If your state police could check immigration status, on what basis do you request to see the papers of person A but not person B?
Will the Supreme Court take the case?