WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court issued a mixed bag of opinions on Arizona's controversial immigration law, striking down three of the four key provisions.
The ruling specifically weighed Arizona's law but has much wider implications.
When Arizona ratified Senate bill 1070, state lawmakers really took the lead in writing their own immigration enforcement laws. Since then, other states tried to follow its lead, including Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Utah.
Reaction to the ruling was split just as it was for the justices, disappointing both supporters and opponents.
"This is a dark day for civil rights in America," Deepak Vhargava, with the Center for Community Change, said.
Jordan Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, explained why some consider the high court's ruling a victory and the effect it will have on other states following John Jessup's report.
For reaction and analysis on the Supreme Court decision, CBN News spoke with Brad Jacob, associate professor of constitutional law at Regent University.
Click play for his comments on how the ruling may affect laws in other states and what this could mean for future immigration policy.
The justices struck down three provisions of the Arizona law, including:
- Requiring all immigrants to obtain or carry immigration registration papers.
- Making it a criminal offense for an illegal immigrant to seek or hold a job.
- Permitting law enforcement to arrest suspected illegal immigrants without warrants.
But they upheld the "show me your papers" provision, which requires law enforcement to check the status of someone they suspect is in the country illegally.
"We have to stop following Arizona's footsteps of pursuing policies based on hatred and fear," Marielena Hincapie, with the Immigration Law Centre, said.
At issue is whether state immigration laws infringe on what is traditionally seen as a federal prerogative.
"It is fundamental that foreign countries concerned about the status, safety, and security of their nationals in the United States must be able to confer and communicate on this subject with one national sovereign, not the 50 separate states," the justices said for the majority opinion.
Supporters of Arizona's law say the ruling does nothing to address America's broken immigration system.
"Now the state of Arizona and all 50 states are at the mercy of the federal government as to which aspects of the federal this president decides he going to enforce on any given day," Ken Klukowski, with the American Civil Rights Union, said.
"Which, I guess, in part, will determine how close we are to the election and how much he thinks he needs those votes," he added.
In a dissenting opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia appealed to states' abilities to maintain their soveriegnty.
"Arizona moved to protect its sovereignty-not in contradiction of federal law, but in complete compliance with it," he wrote.
"If securing its territory in this fashion is not within the power of Arizona, we should cease referring to it as a sovereign state," he said.
Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., said he believes the law and the ruling further divides Americans.
"Whether we agree or disagree, we're all tied together by one blanket and it's torn at the social fabric," he said.
Ultimately, the court's decision put the debate squarely back on Washington to once and for all come up with a solution.
"No one believes that comprehensive immigration reform is going to happen in this Congress, but I am hopeful," Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said. "I'm optimistic that something might able to get done in the next Congress. It needs to happen."
Monday's ruling shows Democrats and Republicans widely agree that immigration reform is badly needed and that it certainly won't happen until after this next election.
Still, the Arizona case is far from settled. There are several challenges, both political and legal, to the "show me your papers" provision.
Justice Anthony Kennedy acknowledged uncertainty with how the law will be interpreted and enforced, suggesting that the ruling does not foreclose other constitutional challenges to it after it goes into effect.