I lift my lamp beside the golden door. Except in Arizona, where I slam your head into the golden door till you beg for mercy.

If you either listened to or read a good recap of yesterday’s SCOTUS arguments about the Arizona immigration law, and saw a mainstream media report about it, you are probably pulling your hair out. What seems to me as the most likely and reasonable compromise to the issue is being treated like a victory for the state’s radical immigration approach.

It seems there was consensus on the Court to allow Arizona officials to check the immigration status of people they’ve already arrested as a matter of state enforcement of already established federal law. I can live with that.

But here’s what’s not happening: the Court doesn’t seem to be endorsing the aggressive “show me your papers” approach that would lead to somebody writing the diary of Anita Franco. And the Court isn’t even taking up the racial profiling question, leaving that argument open for future debate. That’s a big, huge “technicality” that means we likely haven’t seen the last of the Arizona immigration debate.

I guess “SCOTUS Stakes Out Reasonable Compromise While Dodging Racial Issue” doesn’t make for a good mainstream headline. Instead, we’ve got: “Arizona Beats Obama While Verrilli Gets Punched In The Crotch By A Latina.”

Which begs the question: Does Don Verrilli still want this job?

The Arizona arguments matched U.S. Solicitor General Don Verrilli against Paul Clement, the same two oralists who faced off during the Obamacare arguments. And once again, it looks like Clement came out on top, at least stylistically. As we mentioned yesterday, even Sonia Sotomayor slapped Verrilli around.

Who needs this crap? Don Verrilli is a brilliant lawyer who is rolling in the deep, in cash. When Verrilli was a partner at Jenner & Block, I bet he didn’t have to sit around listening to Pete Williams talk s**t about him on the steps of One First Street.

It just feels like all Verrilli has done is defend his client in front of a very unsympathetic and slanted Court. And people are slamming him. Meanwhile, Scalia gets up there and makes absolutely no sense, and people are afraid to say “boo” because he’s the great Justice Scalia. Well, not Lyle Denniston, he’s not afraid of Scalia. From SCOTUSblog:

With Justice Antonin Scalia pushing the radical idea that the Constitution gives states clear authority to close their borders entirely to immigrants without a legal right to be in the U.S., seven other Justices on Wednesday went looking for a more reasonable way to judge states’ power in the immigration field.

Seriously, Nino is up there trying to tell me that Arizona can set up an electric fence that zaps anybody with Mexican DNA, but let’s talk about how the Solicitor General didn’t finesse a point as well as it could have been.

My prediction: the part of the law where officers can check the status of people arrested for other reasons gets upheld 8-0 (remember, Kagan recused). The parts where Arizona gets to detain people for not having the right immigration documentation comes down 4-4, thus preserving the lower court’s ruling that those provisions are unconstitutional. And by next year, Verrilli is back at Jenner making millions and telling everybody to suck it.

Argument recap: A choice between radical and reasonable? [SCOTUSblog]

Earlier: Musical Chairs: Don Verrilli Confirmed As Solicitor General


comments sponsored by

29 comments (hidden for your protection) Show all comments