The United States Supreme Court in a 5-3 decision ruled to uphold an Arizona law today that punishes businesses hiring illegal immigrants.  Opponents of the law, including the Obama administration, argue that the state law steps on the traditional federal oversight over immigration matters.  Chief Justice John Roberts noted that “Arizona has taken the route least likely to cause tension with federal law.  It relies solely on the federal government’s own determination of who is an unauthorized alien, and it requires Arizona employers to use the federal government’s own system for checking employee status.”

In 2007, Arizona passed the Legal Arizona Workers Act, which provides that the state can suspend the licenses of businesses that “intentionally or knowingly” violate work-eligibility verification requirements.  Companies would be required to use the federal E-Verify database to check the documentation of current and prospective employees.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit against Arizona, arguing federal law prohibits Arizona and other states from making E-Verify use mandatory.  Justice Roberts and his four conservative colleagues voted to uphold the Act on grounds that the state law “tracks the federal law’s provisions in all material aspects.”

According to CNN, the case is likely to serve as a bellwether as to how the high court will view the larger, more controversial state immigration law from Arizona which would allow police to check a person’s immigration status if they have “reasonable suspicion” that the individual is in the country illegally.  That case is currently pending before a federal appeals court.

Source: The SAQUI Law Group