Paul B. Kennedy at The Defense Rests put up a post on Tuesday about how the Supreme Court of the United States struck down portions of Arizona’s anti-immigrant statute while letting others stand. He concluded, “[t]he Court’s decision on Monday will open the door for the police in Arizona to profile motorists based on skin color and appearance.”
As the article he cited explains, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the statute’s requirement that police officers check the immigration status of people they stop. That provision, which the article calls the law’s “most controversial aspect,” is found in A.R.S. 11-1051 and provides as follows in relevant part:
For any lawful stop, detention or arrest made by a law enforcement official . . . where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien and is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person, except if the determination may hinder or obstruct an investigation.
I saw Adrian have a pretty amusing discussion with a non-lawyer about the Supreme Court’s ruling on Monday. The guy insisted the court upheld almost everything, allowing the good people of Arizona to do what they must. Adrian explained what the court actually did. They only really agreed that A.R.S. 11-1051(B) was not overruled, but Adrian made an interesting point that got an even more interesting reaction.
A number of law enforcement agencies in this state disagree with the law. I personally know dozens of individual law enforcement officers who are loathe to enforce it because they worry it will prevent them from solving real crimes. Adrian’s argument, which provided quite a glimpse into the prejudices that probably made the guy in favor of the law in the first place, was that the law would result in an epidemic of officers only stopping white people. If you’re a cop, would you rather stop a white guy and either catch him committing a real crime or let him go with a ticket for whatever justified the stop, or would you rather stop someone who might not have adequate papers and spend the rest of your shift dealing with the consequences of a law you despise or at the very least believe someone else should be enforcing?
The guy seemed quite concerned, which I found really funny. I am still inclined to agree with Paul’s conclusion, but if Adrian’s strategically contrarian claim happens to be true, it’ll be wonderful to see the racists’ reaction when white people start getting speeding tickets and going to jail for DUI in record numbers.