While Arizonaâs immigration law was the first to reach the U.S. Supreme Court, a similar but tougher law in Alabama faces its own legal challenge. That case has been on hold, pending a ruling on Arizonaâs law. As WBHM's Andrew Yeager reports, the question now is -- what does Arizona mean for Alabama?
State Senator Scott Beasonâs phone has been ringing off the hook.
âEverybody calls and says have you read the opinion yet and my answer is always, ânoâ been on the phone constantly sinceâ¦"
Beason sponsored the Alabama law. The Republican stands outside the Gardendale Civic Center, north of Birmingham, as a couple of reporters line up. Beason says the ruling is a mixed bag. Heâs happy the so-called âshow me your papers" provision was upheld. Not so happy three others were overturned. And he feels the courtâs reasoning isnât clear.
âBecause of their ambiguity in the decision, itâs entirely possible that Alabama could fly and do very, very well.â
Or he says, it may not. Alabamaâs speaker of the house says the court left the âteeth" of the Arizona law in effect and thatâs a victory.
The Southern Poverty Law Center is among the groups which challenged the Alabama bill. Legal director Mary Bauer says while itâs not a perfect ruling itâs a strong blow to anti-immigrant laws. She says the ruling â in general -- makes clear a state cannot enact its own immigration policy.
âAnd I think that means that much of Alabamaâs law is sort of dead in the water.â
In addition to Alabama -- Indiana, Georgia, South Carolina and Utah have similar immigration laws with legal challenges on hold.
University of Alabama law professor Paul Horwitz says yesterdayâs ruling on Arizona, does not make these other cases a forgone conclusion. Courts will weigh provisions not in Arizonaâs law. Judges may find wiggle room in the ruling. What it does, he says, is offer guidance.
âThe Supreme Court often acts as a kind of traffic signal and itâs steering the traffic in a particular direction now.â
So with these immigration laws in the middle of that process, further legal showdowns are expected-- something both sides of the debate do agree on.
~ Andrew Yeager, June 26, 2012.
~ Web version by Em Wiginton