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SCOTUS decision on Immigration

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Does anybody have any opinions on the ruling?

My own summary of the underlying premises of the reactions to it is this:

  1. Bad and wrong: discriminating against people based on their ethnicity they did not choose.
  2. Prudent and correct: discriminating against people based on their place of birth they did not choose.

But I must admit I didn't get into much depth on it. Did anybody here?

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I haven't read the opinions, but I love the ruling. It preserves the status quo of 250 years, whereby state sovereignty doesn't include the right to control who may or may not live in the state.

The United States is preserved as a nation of cohesive immigration laws and enforcement policies, under the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government. As it should be.

Now let's hope that, after the election, a new administration realizes that relaxing the caps on legal immigration would provide immediate relief to Southern states trying to deal with thriving human smuggling networks. I don't hold out much hope for anyone addressing the bigger cause of out of control crime on the border though (that would be the war on drugs).

1. Bad and wrong: discriminating against people based on their ethnicity they did not choose.

2. Prudent and correct: discriminating against people based on their place of birth they did not choose.

Mexicans everywhere are relieved that the reason why you're willing to abuse and dehumanize them has nothing to do with their race.

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There were four provisions in dispute:

- Allows LEOs investigate the immigration status of an individual already detained for suspicion of committing an unrelated offense. (upheld by all 8 justices - Kagan recused herself)

- Requires legal immigrants to carry proof of immigration status. (struck down by way of the supremacy clause)

- Makes it a crime for an illegal immigrant to search for a job in AZ. (struck down by way of the supremacy clause)

- Allows police to arrest an individual on suspicion of being an illegal immigrant. (struck down by way of the supremacy clause)

I agree with Nicky's assessment that the SCOTUS ruling did well in upholding uniform federal supremacy for immigration law, with the caveat that AZ SB 1070 was simply an enforcement measure and would not have been a large departure from federal supremacy. It mirrored federal law even before some of its provisions were struck, which brings up the important issue (perhaps more important issue) of executive discretion.

Does an executive have freedom in deciding which laws to enforce, and how much relative attention he gives to each law? It seems to me he must - otherwise I don't see why we would need an executive. But how much freedom should he have? Does (or should) he have the freedom to simply choose not to enforce some laws? I'll tentatively say that I think he should. When refusing to enforce a law, does he have the authority to prevent subordinate juristictions from enforcing the law? SCOTUS seems to think so - the only portion of AZ SB 1070 that they upheld had no criminal penalty provisions - it merely broadened the state's investigative tools.

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But how much freedom should he have? Does (or should) he have the freedom to simply choose not to enforce some laws? I'll tentatively say that I think he should. When refusing to enforce a law, does he have the authority to prevent subordinate juristictions from enforcing the law?

It's more of a parallel jurisdiction than a subordinate one. That's why Arizona doesn't have jurisdiction in this matter, just as there are crimes (theft, burglary, even most murders) over which the federal government has no jurisdiction.

Doesn't mean that the two governments can't collaborate, but the one which has jurisdiction has to set the terms. I highly doubt that if Arizona offered unconditional manpower in support of federal law enforcement in the area, they would be turned down. The problem was that they started passing laws dictating local Police involvement, in violation of founding principles regarding the two parallel jurisdictions (states in charge of crimes that have a scope limited to only one state, the feds in charge of everything involving two or more: crossing the border of the United States illegally falls quite clearly in the latter category).

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P.S. I did read one excerpt of Scalia's dissenting opinion (he's pretty much the only one I ever bother reading, because he makes sense from time to time), in which he laments that if the states aren't given the power to control immigration on their territory, then we might as well stop calling them sovereign states.

That is nonsense: sovereignty consists of the power to use force to protect individual rights in the governed area, not control the land as if you own it. States are sovereign (they protect individual rights -or provide for the "welfare of the people", as the Const. unfortunately puts it - as they see fit, within their state), but they do not protect the US border (to the extent that immigration laws serve that purpose), and they definitely don't get to control immigration in general.

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The power to protect individual rights is a better description of sovereignty than the one implied by Scalia's dissent. I don't know that I buy the idea of parallel jurisdictions, but I'm open to it. It seems to me that the US constitution is a federal document to which states have subordinated themselves, and if there was doubt about this prior the 1860's the civil war settled it.

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Nicky, I understand wanting to keep the power of controlling the borders with the federal government, and I agree. How would you respond to the assertion by the AZ governor that the federal government isn't doing enough, isn't doing a good job, and isn't working with the state to come up with a feasible plan? What options does the state have?

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Nicky, I understand wanting to keep the power of controlling the borders with the federal government, and I agree. How would you respond to the assertion by the AZ governor that the federal government isn't doing enough, isn't doing a good job, and isn't working with the state to come up with a feasible plan? What options does the state have?

The only legal option the state itself has is to offer whatever support the federal government requires in the matter. But I don't see anything wrong with that: that's what it means to have no legal jurisdiction over something. Beyond that, the citizens of Arizona are welcome to write their representatives, or vote for someone else next time.

Besides, I don't understand how using Police resources to target people who, by definition, have committed no crimes except crossing the border, would solve anyone's problems. If crimes (other than crossing the border) committed by illegals are the problem, local Police can still be the solution to that. It's just that they have to target the actual criminals who commit those crimes. They do still have full jurisdiction over that.

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The power to protect individual rights is a better description of sovereignty than the one implied by Scalia's dissent. I don't know that I buy the idea of parallel jurisdictions, but I'm open to it. It seems to me that the US constitution is a federal document to which states have subordinated themselves, and if there was doubt about this prior the 1860's the civil war settled it.

The Constitution is a federal document, true. But it is still a document that is very difficult for the federal Congress to alter.

Aside from that rarely exercised power Congress has to amend the Constitution, the states are not legally subordinate to the federal government. They are of course subordinate to the Constitution (just like the federal government is), and subject to Supreme Court rulings regarding the constitutionality of their actions, but not subordinate to the federal government itself.

And, of course, state officials can be subject to federal law enforcement, if they commit crimes that fall under federal jurisdiction. But that's also true for federal officials who commit crimes that fall under state jurisdiction. Local cops can in fact arrest federal agents if they commit a crime in their jurisdiction.

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I don't know if this point has been made before, but a single state or just a few border states providing their own border policy (and by extension immigration policy) is making a decision on behalf of the rest of the states in the union who are not border states. A simple example would be AZ putting up the Berlin Wall while TX offered free ferry service across the Rio Grand. Beyond ideology, it would plainly not work on a purely practical level. Immigration policy must be Federal.

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Are states rights based in any moral principle?

It just seems like conservatives' version of democracy. A leftist will claim that something is legitimate because it is the will of the people, and a conservative will claim that something is legitimate because it is the will of the local government. in reality however, they will immediately go back on this principle if it is inconvenient for them.

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To me, States rights are just an implementation detail--an artifact of the way the country was founded. It's a reasonable part of the system if you envision that there are places where men can disagree about implementation of specifics and can thus move out of the state if it suits them better.

But no, there's nothing "deep" about state's rights vs. federal rights afaik...

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To me, States rights are just an implementation detail--an artifact of the way the country was founded. It's a reasonable part of the system if you envision that there are places where men can disagree about implementation of specifics and can thus move out of the state if it suits them better.

But no, there's nothing "deep" about state's rights vs. federal rights afaik...

I think that that is a mistaken view. The founder's were(very rightly in my opinion) extremely wary of power and embedded as many checks as possible on it, not just in the form of 3 branches of roughly equal power but also in the form of varied levels of opposed jurisdiction with specific limitations at each level. Not that it matters since congress and the courts have always completely ignored the 9th and 10th amendments which reiterated the limitations on centralized power, but they were explicitly clear about their primary purpose, which was to protect liberty by distributing power as widely as possible. So it's trifling only in the sense that they disregard it so often.

Consider in regard to the recent scotus decision on healthcare that if half or even less of the states would turn down the medicaid funding and thereby exempt themselves they could do an end run around Obamacare and it would collapse under its own weight. Not that I expect the Republican led state legislatures to act consistently on their convictions but theoretically at least they do have that power. It's not insignificant.

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