(CN) – A new Arizona that punishes employers who intentionally hire undocumented immigrants is constitutional, the Supreme Court ruled, 5-3.
Chief Justice John Roberts authored the court’s lead opinion, which was joined partly or in full by the court’s remaining conservative justices. Justice Stephen Breyer filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented separately. Justice Elena Kagan did not take part in the court’s consideration or decision of the case.
A group of business owners, civil rights lawyers and immigrants’ advocacy groups claimed that federal law pre-empted the Arizona statute, but their claims were struck down in District Court, which ruled that the Arizona could use state licensing laws to enforce the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act, under the savings clause. The 9th Circuit affirmed.
The high court heard oral arguments in December.
“License suspension and revocation are significant sanctions,” Roberts wrote. “But they are typical attributes of a licensing regime. Numerous Arizona laws provide for the suspensionor revocation of licenses for failing to comply with specified state laws. Federal law recognizes that the authority to licenseincludes the authority to suspend, revoke, annul, or withdraw a license.”