It takes a while for a dispute to reach the Supreme Court of the United States. But the second challenge to Obama Administration policies came before the Court last week. The first major challenge concerned the Constitutionality of the ObamaCare attempt to revise the health care insurance structure. The second Supreme Court confrontation is the defense of the Government's incredible decision to sue the State of Arizona to prevent SB1070 from becoming law.
I expect that if the Administration continues to attempt to impose policies by regulation that they couldn't pass in Congress that we will see more Supreme Court cases in the future.
Arizona, because of geography, is on the leading edge of illegal activity along the Mexico/US border in the American Southwest. This activity has included aliens crossing the US border into Arizona, illegal smuggling, drug trafficking and other violent activity by Mexican drug cartels. The US Southern land border extends along Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
Arizona citizens face trespass, theft, violent assault and monetary impacts to pay for heightened law enforcement efforts and compassionate health and social services for illegal aliens who flood into the state. After years of asking for assistance from the Federal government to secure the borders and protect the citizens in the border areas, Arizona took steps to bring state law enforcement resources into closer alignment with the federal immigrations laws.
The Federal government complained that the Arizona action was improper and pre-empted by Federal authority in the area of immigration policy. The Department of Justice brought suit against The State of Arizona raising issues of Federal Supremacy and State Sovereignty under our Federal Constitution.
As with the ObamaCare case oral arguments Solicitor General Donald Verrilli faced tough questioning from the Justices. Attorney Paul Clement argued against the government in both cases. Only eight Justices were on the bench for the Arizona arguments. Justice Elena Kagan recused herself because she was serving as Solicitor General when the DOJ filed suit against the State of Arizona. Aggressive questioning toward one side or another do not necessarily signal the eventual outcome of the case. The Court has a complex process of discussion and negotiating over written opinions before the final outcome is decided. Look for a decision in June near the end of the current Term of the Court before the results of these cases are announced.
For additional detail of the oral arguments for Arizona v US, take a look at Liz Goodwin's post on Yahoo News <link here>
For the real enthusiasts C-Span has the 80 minute oral argument audio track with identification of which Justice is speaking for questions. This is a fascinating display of the process of an appellate court. Written briefs have been submitted previously by all sides and by many “Friends of the Court” Amicus briefs – legal briefs from persons or organizations who are not a party to the case. The oral arguments highlight the strongest arguments of each side but the Justices interrupt the attorneys with questions arising from the arguments or from the written briefs. It takes a quick witted and articulate advocate to stay on message when they are being interrupted with questions from the top Justices in the land. Audio file available on C-Span <link here> Enjoy.