The Supreme Court justices, hearing arguments Wednesday over Arizona’s tough immigration law, suggested they were inclined to uphold parts of the state’s law but may block other parts.
The Obama administration lawyer who wanted the entire law struck down ran into skeptical questions from most of the justices, who said they saw no problem with requiring police officers to check the immigration status of people who are stopped.
But the justices also said they were troubled by parts of the Arizona law that made it a state crime for illegal immigrants to not carry documents or seek work. The stop-and-arrest provision has been the most contested part of the law.
Before U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. could deliver his opening comments, chief justice John Roberts in an unusual move interrupted to say that “no part of your argument has to do with racial or ethnic profiling.”
Near the end of the argument, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, an Obama appointee, advised Verrilli he needed a stronger argument than the ones he delivered. His argument “is not selling very well,” she commented.