Supreme Court flexes its muscles, sends message to the states

You had to know the U.S. Supreme Court would save the health care ruling for its June encore.

So while we policy wonks hold our Bic lighters (or smartphones) aloft, waiting for Thursday’s news, let’s reflect on an already newsy week for the Supremes. News that came on two fronts, and largely at the expense of the states.

• Monday court’s ruling on the Arizona immigration law, while cluttered, managed to deliver a cogent message. On immigration, the states must defer to the federal government.

The Supreme Court let stand the worst of the Arizona law: the “show me your papers” section. This clause requires police officers to check immigration status, if they suspect they have stopped or arrested someone who is in the country illegally. But this clause is surviving on a wing and a prayer, with the high court’s wink and nod. It would be inappropriate for the Supreme Court to weigh in on this section, said Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing on behalf of the majority, “without the benefit of a definitive interpretation from the state courts.”

That’s not an endorsement. And the Supreme Court cast aside other key pieces of this law.

To their collective credit, Idaho lawmakers have generally steered clear of the immigration issue. They certainly haven’t followed their Arizona colleagues down the path of pandering and profiling. That all looks better, in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
This ruling must have been frustrating to many Arizonans, and I get that.

On the one hand, Kennedy writes about signs along an interstate highway just 30 miles south of Phoenix, cautioning motorists not to travel in an “active drug and human smuggling area.” Writes Kennedy, as if in deadpan, “The problems posed to the State by illegal immigration must not be underestimated.”

Yet Kennedy, and the court’s majority, said Arizona must wait for a solution from a federal government that has proven unable or unwilling to pass comprehensive immigration law.

Dysfunctional? Absolutely. But it doesn’t change the fact that states cannot write 50 versions of immigration law — and that Arizona’s law was a particularly poorly crafted piece of legislation. 

• Also on Monday, the court exerted its primacy over campaign finance law, saying its controversial Citizens United ruling, and the new political Wild West of unlimited independent campaign spending, trumps a 100-year-old Montana law banning corporate contributions.

The ruling wasn’t just a setback for Montana; 22 attorneys general, including Idaho’s Lawrence Wasden, supported the challenge to Citizens United.

Makes sense. After all, this isn’t immigration — a national security and border control issue where the federal government should take charge. I don’t think it should matter to anyone in Mississippi how a state Senate campaign in Montana is bankrolled.

But now that a Supreme Court majority has tersely ruled that “there can be no serious doubt” that Citizens United is the law in Montana, what becomes of Idaho campaign finance laws?

Perhaps nothing. Idaho never placed limits on independent contributions, Secretary of State Ben Ysursa said Wednesday. And limits on contributions — $1,000 in legislative elections and $5,000 in statewide elections — apply equally to corporations and individuals.

Wasden filed on Montana’s behalf, in order to protect the Legislature’s ability to restrict contributions, if it so chose.

As the Supreme Court made abundantly clear Monday, that is now a moot point.

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Citizens United - Rutt Rho

It may be a technically correct ruling, but it places our one man, one vote in dire jeopardy. We must fix Citizens United by a constitutional amendment, but I don't hear a single one of the recipients of the monetary benefits of Citizens United.... aka, our elected representatives, talking about doing anything about it.

Shame, shame, shame....

Corporations don't vote. One

Corporations don't vote. One man, one vote is not in jeopardy.


but, Mitt said corporations are people. Oh, my stars and garters!

Time to loosen up your garters....

you are seeing stars and embarrassing yourself.

And you

are a true shining example of one of Mitt's Misfits. Run along now, to the next blog, where you can resume your total contribution of ignorant blather.

Interesting that.....

"....Arizona's law was a particularly poorly crafted piece of legislation."
"The Supreme Court let stand the worst of the Arizona law...."
And let it stand by a vote of 8 to 0.

Also interesting that the Obama administration immediately set up a 1-800 number and encouraged illegals to report any case where they may have been victimized by citizens. No such phone number to the Obama administration exists for citizens who have been victimized by illegals. Talk about "going down the path of pandering."

Missing the point - AZ's law was thoroughly gutted.

Basically all the Supremes did was reaffirm what's been the law for, well, forever, even since the Warren Court and since Miranda, Escobedo, and other currently-relevant cases were decided.

Cops can ask any question they want to - even about immigration status. That's it. In sum, the Supremes affirmed nothing but existing case law.

But it doesn't mean the detained individual has to answer them.

And it doesn't mean the cops can unreasonably delay the detainee, either.

(For the right-wing and T-holes out there, it means they can't make him stay until they get an answer they like.)

Too bad, so sad, Sheriff Joe and AZ wing nuts - you can't re-write the constitution just because you don't like brown people who don't speak English as well as you do, or aren't satisfied with their inability to produce "papers, please" at your whim.

I hope any and everyone who is detained simply shuts up and refuses to answer any questions without their abogado (that's attorney, for the RW and T-holes).

Heck, I hope ANYONE who is detained by the policia does the same. It's their right, and the Supremes just affirmed it again.

Peace -

detain me please


Remember the place Obama, said he was going to SHUT down 1st day in office.

Detainees are still there. It is EXPANDING.

The law is based on your bank account.


It tried to tell me that the last part of the word "nut ess-h-e-ell-ell" was "H-E-double hockey sticks", and wouldn't let "T-baggers" in (maybe I confused it this time by varying it).

Who says the Statesman is a liberal paper - their censoring software has the sensitivities of a virginal-eared Republican grandmother who wouldn't say SH eye T if she had a mouth full of it!

I'd comment but......

I have a feeling you need to get back to your tent.

Or back to Citi Field.