In the past few months, the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has heard oral arguments in several noteworthy cases which could have profound impacts on various issues from freedom of speech and freedom of religion to privacy rights of corporations and immigration reform. Continue to watch our website for additional posting summaries and updates on these potentially landmark cases.

US Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting

(Oral Argument held on December 8, 2010)

As immigration law issues continue to pervade the nightly news, the first of several immigration laws enacted by the state of Arizona over the last few years is now set for contemplation by the Supreme Court.

Basic Facts: In 2007, Arizona (along with the governor of Arizona at the time, Janet Napolitano, now U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security) enacted the Legal Arizona Workers Act, which requires employers in Arizona to verify worker's legal employment status through a federal electronic verification system (E-Verify) and imposes civil fines on businesses (including revocation of state licenses to do business) who employee illegal aliens. Despite the fact that Arizona has yet to attempt to enforce the law against any employer, the Act was not well received by business, civil rights or immigration organizations in the state who argue that the Act is preempted by federal immigration law, including the 1986 Immigration and Reform Act.

Previous Litigation: The Legal Arizona Workers Act has previously been upheld by both the Arizona District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals partially due to lack of specific preemptive intent by the U.S. Congress. The Ninth Circuit also specifically held that regulating the employment of unauthorized aliens was within a state's police powers.  

Question for the Court: Is the Legal Arizona Workers Act preempted by Federal immigration law?