U.S. Supreme Court

In Another Verrilli-Clement Battle, High Court Seems Sympathetic to Ariz. Immigration Status Checks


Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. and Paul Clement appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court again on Wednesday, this time arguing over an Arizona immigration law.

Both matchups concerned the scope of federal power and states’ rights, the Washington Post reports. In the lawyers’ last appearance before the court, they sparred over whether the federal government had constitutional authority to enact the health care law and its insurance mandate.

Clement appeared set to win at least part of his immigration law argument on behalf of the state of Arizona, according to the Washington Post, the National Law Journal, the New York Times, and SCOTUSblog. The court appeared inclined to uphold one of four provisions being challenged on pre-emption grounds. It requires police to determine the immigration status of a person legally stopped, detained or arrested, if they have a reasonable suspicion the person is in the United States illegally.

Justice Antonin Scalia appeared most in favor of Arizona’s arguments. “What does [state] sovereignty mean if it does not include the ability to defend your borders?” he asked.

Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself in the case. The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the four provisions from taking effect, and a 4-4 tie would uphold the decision. If Arizona gets at least five votes to uphold some sections of the law, future challenges could claim discrimination in implementation.

Verrilli attracted some criticism in the earlier showdown over the health-care law, but this time Chief Justice John G. Roberts took the unusual step of complimenting the advocacy, the National Law Journal says. “Well argued on both sides,” Roberts said.

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Chemerinsky: Arizona Immigration Case Closes a Momentous Court Term”

ABAJournal.com: “ABA Urges Supreme Court to Overturn Ariz. Law Requiring Immigration Checks of Some Arrestees”

ABA Journal: “Immigration’s Next Chapter: Arizona to Tell Its Tale of How to Stop Illegal Immigrants”

ABAJournal.com: “Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Challenge to Controversial Arizona Immigration Law”

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