WASHINGTON The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on Wednesday in a test of whether a tough state law intended to crack down on illegal immigrants improperly intruded on the federal government's power to enforce the nation's immigration laws.
On one side are the Southwestern border state of Arizona; its Republican governor, Jan Brewer; and Paul Clement, a former solicitor general during George W. Bush's presidency. Clement, who is now in private practice, argued last month's Supreme Court challenge to President Barack Obama's healthcare law.
On the other side are the federal government; the Democrat Obama, who has criticized Arizona's immigration law; and the current Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, a former White House lawyer who defended the healthcare law before the Supreme Court.
The four disputed provisions at issue have not gone into effect because a federal judge and a U.S. appeals court agreed with the administration's argument that federal immigration law preempted them.
The Supreme Court will consider the following four provisions of Arizona's 2010 law, entitled "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act" and known nationally as S.B. 1070:
Section 2(B) requires that state and local police officers attempt to determine the immigration status of any individual stopped or detained if the officer reasonably suspects the person is in the United States illegally.
It also requires that law enforcement officers determine the immigration status of anyone who has been arrested before the person can be released.
Section 3 makes it a crime under state law for an illegal immigrant to fail to apply for a registration document or to fail to carry registration papers if they have been issued. Violators face up to 20 days in jail for a first offense and 30 days in jail for a subsequent violation.
Section 5(C) makes it a crime for any illegal immigrant to apply for, publicly solicit or perform work within the state's borders. Violators face up to six months in jail, a $2,500 fine and three years of probation.
Section 6 authorizes state and local police officers to arrest immigrants without a warrant if the officer has "probable cause to believe" they have committed a crime that makes them deportable from the United States.
The Supreme Court case is Arizona v. United States, No. 11-182.
(Reporting By James Vicini; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Eric Walsh)