Free Markets, Free People


SCOTUS supports state’s right to impose penalties on businesses who hire illegal immigrants

In a decision today, the Supreme Court basically upheld the portion of the Arizona state law that sanctions employers who hire illegal immigrants:

The 5-3 decision upholds the Legal Arizona Workers Act of 2007 and its so-called business death penalty for employers who are caught repeatedly hiring illegal immigrants. The state law also requires employers to check the federal E-Verify system before hiring new workers, a provision that was also upheld Thursday.

[…]

Thursday’s decision is a defeat for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, several civil-rights groups and the Obama administration, all of whom opposed the Arizona law and its sanctions on employers. They argued that federal law said states may not impose "civil or criminal sanctions" on employers.

This ruling boosts state’s arguments that they have at least some rights in terms of controlling illegal immigration (particularly when the federal government refuses to act).  The three dissenters disagreed:

In dissent were Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. They said federal law prohibited states from imposing their own immigration-related rules on employers. Justice Elena Kagan sat out the case.

Of course federal law prohibits, or tries to prohibit such rules by states, but the court just changed that, didn’t they?  It gives states back some of their rights and reduces the power of the federal government in an area where I think it’s power needed to be reduced, particularly since it appears the problem is out of control with the fed in charge.

I have mixed feelings about the so-called “death penalty” for businesses.  I assume, or at least hope that there are appeals, etc. before it is finally imposed because such a penalty effects more than just the business owners in many cases.

By ruling that the states have the right to impose such a penalty though, illegal immigrants will find gaining employment much harder than it was before as there are few businesses who are going to figure that saving a little money hiring an illegal is worth the “death penalty” if caught.

Oh … and to save the drive by commenters the trouble – being against “illegal immigration”, note the term emphasized, does not mean one is against “immigration”, thankyouverymuch.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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7 Responses to SCOTUS supports state’s right to impose penalties on businesses who hire illegal immigrants

  • Not quite – the finding is that a licensing penalty is acceptable precisely because the Federal law on the subject (the preemption statute) explicitly allows for licensing penalties.
    It’s not so that the Supreme Court “changed” the Federal law here – it just found that the Arizona law which was tailored to fit that exemption actually does fit it.
    The quote over at Volokh with Roberts’ opinion makes it clearer than other reports I’ve seen.

    • But the argument by the dissent to which I pointed said there was NO acceptable penalty because the fed law prohibits that. Obviously that’s incorrect as of today (i.e. there are “acceptable penalties” under law that the state can impose to slow illegal immigration).

  • I have mixed feelings about the so-called “death penalty” for businesses.  I assume, or at least hope that there are appeals, etc. before it is finally imposed because such a penalty effects more than just the business owners in many cases.
    I expect that there will ALL KINDS of due process, with penalties ramping up.  Draconian laws don’t do well in practice.  This was the genesis of “jury nullification” in our Common Law tradition.

    • Here in Arizona we have our own version of  the “Three Strikes” rule.
      On your third case of having found illegals working for you (which results in a warning)  on the first case, a 30 loss-of-license on the 2nd) AND that they were not verified, AND that you have no explanation, you lose your license for good.
      It’s not like speeding or some other trivial issue. If there are some consequences beyond the owner, just who is it that is effected?
      Others who are hold the law in disdain. That’s endemic of those cultures those workers come from.
      Gee, look at all the restrictions those future Republicans endure when they come from Cuba (and where many die along the way).

  • On the federal level, I believe the legal term is “malfeasance”.

  • They said federal law prohibited states from imposing their own immigration-related rules on employers.

    It would be fascinating to ask the three justices to point to that part of the Constitution that gives the federal government this power.

    Maybe it’s a penumbra of an emanation of a shadow of Article V or something…

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