SB 1070 Analysis: Who Is the Real Winner Here?

At Slate, Walter Dellinger splashes cold water on the idea that Arizona was the winner in today's Supreme Court decision on SB 1070:

So what does Arizona win? A temporary reprieve for one provision that will be upheld by the court only if Arizona abandons the language that requires detaining a person until their immigration status can be verified. That may be something. But not nearly as much as that which was invalidated.

More generally, the tenor of the opinion of the court is a vindication of federal authority over immigration. “Federal law makes a single sovereign responsible for maintaining a comprehensive and unified system to keep track of aliens within the Nation’s borders,” and quotes from an earlier decision that “Conflict is imminent whenever two separate remedies are brought to bear on the same activity.” It will take at least several days of analysis before one can confidently predict what today’s decision will mean for immigration laws enacted recently by other states. But there is virtually nothing in the court’s opinion that should give lawmakers in those other states any comfort whatsoever.

There's a full-on legal symposium over at SCOTUS Blog. Gabriel J. Chin and Marc L. Miller observe:

At its core, S.B. 1070 is a use of the state police power and state criminal law to enforce and punish federal immigration violators; at its core this is what a majority of the Supreme Court rejected.

In surprisingly strong terms, the Supreme Court sided with the federal government and upheld the Ninth Circuit’s preliminary injunction of Sections 3, 5 and 6 of Arizona’s S.B. 1070 law. Section 3 criminalized non-compliance with federal immigration registration laws; the Court said Arizona’s law interfered with the federal statute. Section 5 criminalized non-citizens’ working without authorization, which federal law did not criminalize. The Court said Arizona could not criminalize something that Congress had determined not to. Section 6 authorized arrests for civil immigration violations; the Court said that was a federal prerogative. (We explain the provisions of S.B. 1070 in greater detail here).