Scalia’s immigration dissent

One thing is clear in today’s Supreme Court ruling that struck down parts of Arizona’s controversial immigration law while keeping its key part: Much of it was written in the last week or so.

That much is clear in a strongly worded dissent from today’s decision. In it, Justice Anton Scalia takes aim at President Barack Obama’s recent immigration policy change, that eliminates deportation of young people who brought to the country illegally by their parents. That policy was only announced a week ago.

The policy wasn’t before the Supreme Court, but Scalia gave it a blistering review:

The President said at a news conference that the new program is “the right thingto do” in light of Congress’s failure to pass the Administration’s proposed revision of the Immigration Act. Perhaps it is, though Arizona may not think so. But to say, as the Court does, that Arizona contradicts federal law by enforcing applications of the Immigration Act that the President declines to enforce boggles the mind.

The Court opinion’s looming specter of inutterable horror–“[i]f §3 of the Arizona statute were valid, every State could give itself independent authority to prosecute fed eral registration violations,” seems to me not so horrible and even less looming. But there has come to pass, and is with us today, the specter that Arizona and the States that support it predicted: A Federal Government that does not want to enforce the immigration lawsas written, and leaves the States’ borders unprotected against immigrants whom those laws would exclude. So the issue is a stark one. Are the sovereign States at themercy of the Federal Executive’s refusal to enforce the Nation’s immigration laws?

Find the entire opinion (and dissent) here.

  • MikeB

    In a nation of immigrants, it is disheartening to see the view that immigrants are a threat to our country come from the highest court in the land. Scalia combines the language of the legal world and cable TV punditry, sullying the former and living down to the latter.

    With one more carefully screened appointment, the politicization of SCOTUS will be complete.

  • Neil

    Strange of Justice Scalia to force his on recusal should the issue reach the Court.

  • Disco

    Term limits.

  • Well said MikeB.

    First a do-nothing Congress bobbles the immigration potato, then a politically-charged Supreme Court pinches out a pungently rotten egg.

  • Jim Shapiro

    “Scalia” and “the right thing to do” are two concepts that don’t go well together.

    (Unless of course one believes that the selling of our democracy to the highest bidder is the right thing to do. Or the denial of habeas corpus. Or the refusal to recuse oneself. Or…)

  • Kurt Nelson

    I used to enjoy reading Scalia’s writing, majority or dissent, but now he is just a bitter old man, wrapping himself under the texturalism of the constitution. His pithy remarks serve no purpose in his decisions, other than to let everyone know how smart he is and how cleaver he can be in insulting his Brethren.

    Absent that, however, and his whining becomes tiresome, especially in dissent, where his views, (and most dissents) have no power of law behind them


    I have not read the decision yet, I am still wading through the Miller v. Alabama, and Justice Kagen’s opinion. But on first blush I wonder how the Majority held local law enforcement can conduct something that is clearly a federal power, “asking for papers”.

    In Printz v. U.S.(1997), the Court held that local law enforcement could not be held to conduct federal background checks on gun purchases, becasue they were not federal agents. This invalidated part of the Brady Act.

    It will be interesting to see how they get around that precedent.

  • Kurt Nelson

    Court decorum says that in dissent, the Justice(s) will end their decision with “I respectfully dissent”. There are cases when a Justice will not adhere to that practice (notably Justice Ginsburg in Bush v. Gore), and of course, in this case, in his whiny way, Justice Scalia signs off with “I dissent”. He is like a child, a lonely child who pouts until he gets his way, except in this case, he will not get his way.

  • Robert Moffitt

    Scalia? What kind of foriegn-sounding name is that? Show me your papers, Justice Scalia.