Georgia, SC officials react to immigration ruling

Ruling on Arizona law clears way for action on Georgia, S.C. policies

ATLANTA — Opponents of Georgia’s immigration law are hopeful Monday’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that tossed out key provisions of Arizona’s law means they can eventually win their legal challenge.


But supporters and Gov. Nathan Deal are also claiming victory, saying the justices affirmed states’ rights to assist in enforcing federal immigration law.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a provision Monday that requires police to check the immigration status of someone they suspect is not in the country legally. Those pushing for tougher immigration laws in Georgia hope the high court’s support for that measure will free up a similar statute in Georgia’s law that was put on hold by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court in Atlanta.

The case was in limbo until the Supreme Court ruled on Arizona. Georgia’s law makes immigration status checks legal but does not require them as in Arizona.

“The only part of the Georgia law remotely associated with the Supreme Court decision today was upheld, and that should be viewed as a victory,” said D.A. King, founder of the Dustin Inman Society, which pushes for tougher enforcement of immigration laws and helped craft the state’s law.

Deal, who was not available for an interview, released a statement praising the ruling.

“It appears the court has upheld the major thrust of our state’s statute: That states have the right to assist in enforcing federal immigration law,” he said.

But immigration advocates say the other side is misreading the court’s ruling. In the majority opinion, the justices wrote that while they upheld the “show me your papers” requirement, they also left the policy open to further challenge under racial profiling and civil rights statutes.

Laws passed in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana and Utah were modeled at least in part upon the one passed by Arizona in 2010. Now that the Supreme Court has weighed in on the issue, challenges to the laws in those states can now likely move forward.

Supporters of immigration crackdowns, however, say the ruling also gives states a critical role in enforcing federal law by allowing local authorities to check the status of those suspected of being in the country illegally.

“I’m encouraged at least by that glimmer of hope in the decision that we’ll have the opportunity to interact more closely with the federal government on undocumented residents when we encounter them,” said South Carolina state Sen. Larry Martin, a Republican who sponsored his state’s legislation. “Beyond that, I think our hands are tied by the federal law.”

The court left untouched one complaint raised in numerous lawsuits in states with similar immigration laws – that immigration crackdown laws encourage police to engage in racial profiling. That leaves open the possibility that lower courts, like the 11th Circuit, could still overturn parts of various laws based on those arguments.

Other states including Mississippi, Nebraska and Oklahoma had previously considered immigration crackdowns that ultimately failed.


• The Supreme Court ruled Monday that it is unconstitutional for state laws to require juveniles convicted of murder to be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. The 5-4 decision is in line with others the court has made, including ruling out the death penalty for juveniles and life without parole for young people whose crimes did not involve killing. Monday’s decision left open the possibility that judges could sentence juveniles to life without parole in individual cases of murder, but said state laws cannot automatically impose such a sentence.

• The court turned away a plea to revisit its 2-year-old campaign finance decision in the Citizens United case and instead struck down a Montana law limiting corporate campaign spending. The same five conservative justices in the Citizens United majority that freed corporations and labor unions to spend unlimited amounts in federal elections joined Monday to reverse a Montana court ruling upholding the state’s century-old law. The four liberal justices dissented.

• The court refused to intervene in a water dispute among Alabama, Florida and Georgia that until a year ago threatened to restrict metro Atlanta’s main water supply. That decision means an appeals court ruling favorable to metro Atlanta will stand. Authorities in Florida, Alabama and even southern Georgia complain that Atlanta takes too much water from Lake Lanier, a reservoir on the Chattahoochee River, leaving too little downstream for wildlife, industry and drinking water systems.

• The high court decided Monday to take up a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that federal regulators should treat runoff from logging roads in industrial timberlands the same way as pollution discharged from a factory.

• The Supreme Court won’t get involved in a fight over whether a 29-foot war memorial cross can remain on public land overlooking the Pacific Ocean in San Diego, with justices refusing Monday to review an appeals court ruling that deemed the Mount Soledad cross an unconstitutional mixing of government and religion.

– From wire reports


Sat, 08/19/2017 - 01:11

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