Supreme Court Upholds Arizona Immigration Law
- October 18, 2014
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The U.S. Supreme Court has recently announced several opinions of importance to businesses.
In the case of Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America, et. al. v. Michael B Whiting, et. al., 2001 US Lexis 4018 (May 26, 2011), the high Court upheld Arizona’s law that required employers to verify the immigration status of their employees using a federally created program called “E-Verify”. The state requirement went beyond the verification called for under Federal law.
The majority opinion authored by Chief Justice Roberts is viewed as anti-business because it will subject businesses to additional requirements on a state by state basis, which requirements may be more stringent than what is required by federal law. Lack of uniformity on employment issues for companies doing business in multiple states can add to the cost of doing business. One of the penalties for non compliance with the Arizona’s law is the revocation of state issued licenses, including corporate charters. This means that the revocation of a company’s corporate existence is among the weapons in the State’s arsenal of tools to force compliance with its laws, even when they are more stringent than Federal law on immigration. The Federal immigration laws do not currently require use of E-Verify in all cases, unlike the Arizona law which mandates its use.
The dissent, authored by Justice Sotomayor, argued that Federal law should control on the issue of immigration and that by enacting the additional requirement and employment eligibility verification requirements, the State was attempting to occupy the area of immigration which should be in the exclusive domain of the Federal government. The dissent represents an unusual alliance of Court liberals with the Chamber of Commerce.
The example of Arizona now opens the door for similar laws to pass in other states, even on federal issues like immigration, since the Court held that such laws are not preempted by federal law. Unfortunately, the introduction of this type of legislation may appeal to politicians wishing to be viewed as tough on immigration, which is a political hot button in border states, including California!
You can view the complete opinion here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/09-115.pdf