The Supreme Court standing handing down its rulings today but the big one that everyone has been waiting for, the much anticipated ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), won’t be out until Thursday it seems. However, two important decisions came down the pipe today.
First, the Supreme Court struck down key provisions of Arizona’s immigration/racial profiling law:
In a 5-3 ruling handed down by Justices Anthony Kennedy, the high court held that most of the provisions being challenged encroached on turf that is constitutionally reserved for the federal government. The court overturned parts of the law that criminalize one’s presence in Arizona without documentation, criminalize working or looking for work without legal status, and permit police to arrest people without a warrant if there’s suspicion that they’ve committed a deportable crime.
But the provision of the law permitting police to check a person’s immigration papers during lawful encounters was not thrown out by the court. Rather, the court declared that it was premature for the lower courts to block that provision of the law and left open the possibility of revisiting its constitutionality after it goes into effect.
Joining Justice Kennedy in the majority were John Roberts, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor. Justice Elena Kagan, who worked on the issue as Obama’s solicitor general, did not participate in the case.
This has several important implications. First, similar legislation has been proposed in Arkansas, and this should act as a deterrent. I say should, because let’s face it, people like John Hubbard and Nate Bell don’t live in the real world with the rest of us and don’t respond rationally to things like this. It’s also an election year victory for President Obama, who was lead the charge against the measure. The make up of the vote is interesting, with what passes for the Court’s liberal wing being joined by Justice Kennedy, who is known to strike a reasonable tone from time to time on social issues, and more surprisingly, Chief Justice John Roberts. The only dissenters were the Court’s arch-conservative wing made up of Scalia, Thomas, and Alito.
In other SCOTUS news, remember when I wrote about AG McDaniel joining other state AG’s in the fight against Citizens United? The issue was whether the decision applied to the states, Montana specifically, which has some pretty stringent restrictions on corporate meddling in elections by comparison to, say, Arkansas. Of course, the best measure of what the Roberts Court will rule isn’t established precedent or well thought out legal principle, it’s what side corporations are on. And as such, we get a 5-4 ruling with the five conservative justices again standing up unequivocally for corporate corruption of our political system.
The big news though is the case we don’t get to find out about today. Until Thursday (maybe) we’re left wondering if the Court will uphold all of the Affordable Care Act, scrap the individual mandate but leave the rest in tact, or totally shred the whole bill. You know what’s sad about the situation? Constitutional scholars are saying the whole bill should be found Constitutional but are still betting that it won’t be. If that doesn’t show you what kind of a farce the Roberts Court has become I don’t know what does.
Update: This is funny. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is out touting the SCOTUS decision that shredded most of her controversial racial profiling effort and kicked the can down the road on one key provision as a “victory.” This total detachment from reality just confirms what I have always suspected-that a shockingly high number of Republicans suffer from incurable brain damage.