U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton has halted enforcement of critical portions of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, ruling that “the United States is likely to succeed on the merits” of its claim that federal law pre-empts those provisions.
As CNN reports, Bolton’s ruling bars enforcement of a provision that “requires police to ‘make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of a person stopped, detained or arrested’ if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person is in the United States illegally….She also blocked provisions of the law making it a crime to fail to apply for or carry alien registration papers or ‘for an unauthorized alien to solicit, apply for, or perform work,’ and a provision ‘authorizing the warrantless arrest of a person’ if there is reason to believe that person might be subject to deportation.”
After reading Bolton’s opinion, I’d say she makes a strong argument. Driven by populist appeals to public anger, Arizona politicians clearly exceeded their state-granted authority by impinging on federal responsibility. The state will no doubt appeal the ruling, but unless the Supreme Court is willing to overturn clear precedent — not an impossibility — that appeal is not likely to succeed.