The Supreme Court Got it Right in Upholding Key Provision of SB 1070
by Rhonda Deniston
In a 5-3 decision the Supreme Court upheld a key provision of Arizona’s immigration Law, SB 1070. Law enforcement can constitutionally inquire about immigration status during stops when there is reasonable suspicion to believe an individual is undocumented.
The Supreme Court got it right. Law enforcement at a local, state and federal level have always had broad discretion regarding reasonable suspicion. When officers consider the totality of the circumstances, along with good training and experience, gives them the ability to make good judgment. Had the Supreme Court struck this provision down regarding immigration cases, it could have very well affected law enforcement’s ability to have broad discretion and reasonable suspicion regarding other crimes as well, hindering law enforcement personnel from effectively doing their job.
However, immigration status inquiries are already set to be challenged in court, so this may not be the end of this issue, although we are not likely to see the outcome of the challenges for some time, and there is no guarantee the Supreme Court will revisit this issue. It is rare a Supreme Court ruling is reversed.
Both sides on the issue are claiming victory as a result of the Supreme Court ruling, but there is no victory when you have a broken immigration system and a federal government that refuses to enforce immigration laws, secure the border or have a reasonable path to citizenship. At the end of the day this comes down to law enforcement’s ability to continue the use of reasonable suspicion with broad discretion and nothing more.