As Arizona's controversial new immigration law continues to draw headlines and legal challenges, a different Arizona immigration law is now headed to the U.S. Supreme Court for review. The Court agreed on Monday to hear a legal challenge brought by several groups including civil rights organizations, immigration groups and businesses.
The law in question involves a 2007 Arizona state law, called the Legal Arizona Workers Act, which punishes employers if they knowingly hire illegal immigrants. It was initially challenged by the Chamber of Commerce, the America Civil Liberties Union and several other organizations. It has already survived legal challenges before a federal judge and a U.S. appeals court. The case was last heard by a three-judge panel of the 9th circuit U.S. Court of Appeals which upheld the law unanimously.
While the challenge to the Legal Arizona Workers Act is separate from the current challenges to the 2010 SB 1070 law signed by Gov. Jan Brewer, Reuters reports that the Supreme Court's eventual decision in the case could end up affecting the pending legal challenges to the new law. That's because the challenge to the 2007 law is based on a similar legal theory, that the Arizona law attempts to preempt federal immigration rules and thereby usurps the supremacy of federal law over state law. Generally, the federal government determines the law nationally in areas such as immigration policy and does not permit individual states to create their own systems if they interfere with federal law.
The case is also noteworthy because it comes to the U.S. Supreme Court as Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is in the middle of her confirmation hearing. Kagan pushed for the Court to review the 2007 Arizona law while serving as Solicitor General.