Justice Department to sue Arizona on immigration law
Update: The Washington Post shares the text of the Justice Department’s lawsuit.
The AP is reporting that the Justice Department will sue the state of Arizona over its controversial anti-illegal immigrant law, which orders police to check immigration status in the course of other law enforcement activities:
The planned lawsuit was confirmed to The Associated Press by a Justice Department official with knowledge of the plans. The official didn’t want to be identified before a public announcement planned for later Tuesday.
The lawsuit will argue that Arizona’s new measure requiring state and local police to question and possibly arrest illegal immigrants during the enforcement of other laws, like traffic stops, usurps federal authority.
Clearly we’re seeing a return to a big debate about federalism in the United States. On the one hand, you’ve got this lawsuit in which the feds are arguing that a state law, which may be mimicked soon in other jurisdictions, encroaches on a key federal law enforcement power – the regulation of immigration.
On the other hand, the federal government is asserting in its defense of the health care reform legislation that the federal government can mandate the purchase of health insurance by the American population. States are arguing that this is an invasion of commerce that is not of an inter-state nature.
It will be an interesting exercise to compare the briefs submitted by the government in these two cases, and find if the feds contradict themselves in any key areas. These two cases also guarantee an exciting term next year for the Supreme Court, which will probably feature an Associate Justice Elena Kagan. But really, where in an era where we lack political imagination by such an alarming degree that the courts have to settle an increasing number of our political disputes. That’s the greatest shame of all in our republic.