Tag Archives: Immigration

You hear the one about the SG, the cough and the bad reviews?

In the days after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the healthcare challenge and again after the Arizona immigration law case, there was a lot of chatter among Court watchers. And a lot of it involved one question: Just how bad was Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr.’s performance?

As the New York Times’ Adam Liptak points out in his piece yesterday, Supreme Court oral advocacy is usually not a spectator sport, at least not to the extent that it was when it came to Verrilli’s performance at the podium in March and April. But after the healthcare case, some observers skewered his performance as if he were a quarterback who choked and got repeatedly sacked at the Super Bowl.

Verrilli did choke a little – literally – at the start of the second day of arguments, coughing and needing to pause to take a drink of water in an effort to clear his throat of something. That problem only lasted briefly, but it proved to be a metaphor to how some saw his entire performance, spurring headlines like: “Obama’s Solicitor General Coughs, Stumbles, Stutters Through ObamaCare Defense.”

Others cut right to the chase, with headlines like the one on Mother Jones’ website: “Donald Verrilli Makes the Worst Supreme Court Argument of All Time.”

The critiques of his performance had the media on high alert once the immigration case came up. When at one point Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor suggested that Verrilli’s argument was “not selling well” with the justices, the press made a little collective gasp. Here we go again, we thought. We were right. The reviews were not good.

Liptak pointed out that in the court of public opinion, the jury was split. Members of the Supreme Court bar defended Verrilli, saying he had a very tough job to do, and he rose to the occasion.

“It always looks bad when the justices aren’t buying what you’re selling,” Ted Olson, veteran Supreme Court advocate and former solicitor general,  told Liptak. “Don had very, very difficult cases. That hand was dealt before he got there.”

Arizona immigration law challenge could end in a tie

Gov. Jan Brewer and attorney Paul Clement, far right, leaving the Supreme Court Wednesday after oral arguments in Arizona v. U.S. (Photo: Kimberly Atkins, Lawyers USA)

There is bad news and good news for the Obama administration as it seeks to have Arizona’s controversial immigration enforcement law SB 1070 struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The bad news: four out of the eight justices who heard the case today seemed to side squarely on the side of Arizona officials who say the state statute does not conflict with federal immigration law. (Justice Elena Kagan recused herself, likely because she was involved in the challenge while she was Obama’s solicitor general).

If, as it seemed, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and presumably Clarence Thomas (Thomas does not speak during oral arguments, but he is a vocal opponent of the doctrine of implied preemption) are inclined to rule in favor of the state, the best the federal government can do in its challenge is tie – assuming noted swing voter Justice Anthony M. Kennedy votes in the administration’s favor.

But the good news is that a tie would be a win in this case. If the Court splits, the case goes back to the 9th Circuit, which has already given a strong indication that it would strike down the law when it upheld a preliminary injunction preventing the law from going into effect.

Much more on the arguments later on Lawyers USA online.

Supreme Court saves AZ immigration law challenge for last

The Supreme Court is set to end its oral argument season with a bang this morning, as it hears the challenge to Arizona’s immigration law which authorizes police officers to check the status of any detained individual the officer suspects may be an illegal immigrant.

The law is being challenged by the Obama administration, which argues that federal immigration law preempts state measures such as Arizona’s SB 1070. But state officials say they have the right to enact state immigration laws, particularly where – as they claim here – federal law is ineffective.

Stay tuned to Lawyers USA online and this blog this afternoon for updates on the arguments.

Brewer and Obama bicker publicly as immigration battle looms

We already knew the pending Supreme Court showdown between Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and the Obama administration over the controversial Arizona immigration law SB 1070 would be explosive. But yesterday we got a glimpse of the bubbling animosity between the parties.

As the Court prepares to hear the debate over whether the state statute directing police to check the immigration status of detainees believed to be in the country illegally is preempted by federal immigration law, Brewer and President Obama had a heated exchange yesterday.

After Brewer greeted Obama as he stepped off Air Force One outside of Phoenix, she handed him a letter and then the two engaged in a heated discussion. According to the Associated Press, both Brewer and Obama appeared to be smiling, but speaking over each other for several moments. At one point, Brewer waved her finger in the president’s face.

Asked about the exchange afterward, Brewer said: “He was a little disturbed about my book.”

In her recent book “Scorpions for Breakfast,” Brewer described a meeting she had with Obama at the White House to discuss immigration. “I felt a little bit like I was being lectured to, and I was a little kid in a classroom, if you will, and he was this wise professor and I was this little kid, and this little kid knows what the problem is and I felt minimized to say the least,” Brewer said.

According to Brewer, Obama objected to the book’s implication that she was mistreated at the White House

“I said to him, you know, I have always respected the office of the president and that the book is what the book is,” Brewer said. “I said that I was sorry that he felt that way. Anyway, we’re glad he’s here, and we’ll regroup.”

Brewer said the letter she handed Obama was an invitation to have lunch and visit the border.

Here’s hoping oral arguments at the Supreme Court in April are as exciting.

Az. immigration law gets Supreme consideration

UPDATE: The Supreme Court granted certiorari in U.S. v. Arizona, agreeing to decide whether federal immigration law preempts an Arizona law that authorizes police to verify the immigration status of individuals who are detained. More updates to come on Lawyers USA online.

When the health care law challenge landed before the Supreme Court, it took the justices only one conference to decide to grant certiorari. Today another potential blockbuster case with major political ramifications could be added to the Court’s docket after just one look: the challenge to Arizona’s controversial immigration law.

During Friday’s conference, the justices considered the certiorari petition from Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer in the case U.S. v Arizona, which asks whether federal immigration law preempts an Arizona law that authorizes police to verify the immigration status of individuals who are detained.

The Arizona Legislature in April 2010 passed a law requiring police to check the immigration status of an individual who is stopped, detained or arrested if a “reasonable suspicion” exists that the person has entered the country illegally. The statute further authorizes police to make a warrantless arrest when probable cause exists that an individual has committed an offense that makes them removable from the country.

More on this and any other newsworthy developments from the Court, which is also set to release opinions today, on this blog and Lawyers USA online.

Supreme Court ponders health care, immigration cases

The U.S. Supreme Court could announce whether it will take up the challenge to the federal health care law and its individual mandate as soon as this morning.

During Thursday’s conference the justices considered the certiorari petitions in the cases challenging Congress’s authority under the Commerce Clause to require individuals to purchase health care insurance. The Court’s decision on whether to take up the challenges could come when orders are announced to day at 10 a.m.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department chimed in on what could be another blockbuster case this term, should the Court choose to take it up: the challenge to Arizona’s controversial immigration law authorizes police to assess individuals’ immigration status.

The government urged the Court not to take up the decision by the 9th Circuit ruling blocking the enforcement of the most controversial aspects of the law, holding that the provisions are preempted by federal immigration law.

Keep an eye on this blog and Lawyers USA’s new Supreme Court Report page for updates on these cases and other newsworthy tidbits.

Arizona files SCOTUS cert petition over immigration law

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a 9th Circuit ruling blocking enforcement of parts of the state’s controversial immigration law, S.B. 1070, which allows police to check the immigration status of individuals.

The move officially puts the case before the nation’s highest court, which must now decide whether to take the matter up next term. At issue in the case is whether states have the ability to implement tough immigration laws, or if that area is solely within the jurisdiction of federal lawmakers.

“It’s going to be pretty hard for the federal government to deny these are issues of primary importance,” said Paul Clement, a Washington, D.C., attorney hired by Brewer to prepare Wednesday’s petition, according to the Arizona Republic. “It’s not like immigration is an area of absolutely exclusive federal control, and with Arizona bearing such a disproportionate burden (of the immigration problem), a one-size-fits-all solution doesn’t make sense.”

Legal commentators on an online symposium hosted by SCOTUSblog have been chiming in for weeks with opinions on whether the Court will rule in the Arizona’s favor, or side with the federal government – or whether the Court will decide to take up the matter at all.

Brewer taps Clement for Az. immigration law cert bid (access required)


In a move that apparently surprised her own state attorney general, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer tapped Paul Clement to lead the state’s effort to get the U.S. Supreme Court to lift the injunction preventing enforcement of parts of the state’s controversial immigration bill SB 1070.

That measure, which Brewer signed into law in 2010, authorizes police to check the immigration status of an individual who is stopped, detained or arrested if a “reasonable suspicion” exists that the person has entered the country illegally.



Clement, now a partner at Bancroft, recently parted ways with King & Spalding to continue representing House Republicans in their bid to defend the Defense of Marriage Act.

Fresh off a high court victory in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, in which the Court upheld an Arizona law imposing strict sanctions on employers who hire illegal workers, Brewer blindsided Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne by hiring Clement to lead the state’s defense of SB 1070, The Arizona Republic’s Ginger Rough reports.

Horne was unaware of Brewer’s decision to hire Clement until reports surfaced Tuesday morning, Rough reported, and he had previously said that he was eager to handle all legal proceeding pertaining to the case. The Whiting case was argued by Arizona Solicitor General Mary R. O’Grady.

In a statement, Horne said: “It is important that we win the SB 1070 case. Paul Clement is an outstanding attorney, and his addition to the legal team is valuable to the state’s defense of the law.”

HT: How Appealing

Court takes up AZ ‘business death penalty’ immigration law (access required)

This morning the Supreme Court takes up a case that not only involves hot-button issues like immigration reform, employment discrimination and federal preemption – the case has also created an unusual alliance of groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the ACLU and labor unions.

The case Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting involves a challenge brought by the Chamber against the Legal Arizona Workers Act, a state law requiring companies to use the federal E-Verify system to check the immigration status of their workers. Failure to do so can result in penalties that include fines, possible jail time and the loss of the company’s business license – which leads some to call the measure a “business death penalty.”

The Chamber and other groups that have joined the challenge as amici claim that the law should be struck down because the federal government is in charge of imposing immigration laws, and has already chosen to make use of the E-Verify system voluntary, not mandatory.

But state officials say federal immigration laws expressly allow states to impose licensing laws on businesses. The state law is just that, they argue.

The case also presents a preview of sorts of the battle over Arizona’s other immigration law, S.B. 1070, which allows the police to detain anyone they suspect of being an undocumented worker.

UPDATE: Coverage of the oral argument can be found here on Lawyers USA Online (sub. req’d).

More on the case and its potential impact here from Lawyers USA.

Justice Department to file suit over AZ immigration law today

CNN is reporting that Obama administration sources have confirmed that the Justice Department will fill a lawsuit today over Arizona’s controversial immigration law.

The suit will allege that the law is preempted by federal immigration law.

The Washington Post reports that some legal experts believe that the argument of preemption – a doctrine that has been well-established and upheld by the Supreme Court – should very well persuade the federal district court judge that the state law, which allows police to question anyone if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is an illegal immigrant, is a violation of the Constitution’s supremacy clause. The law is scheduled to go into effect later this month.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton first indicated last month that a lawsuit would be forthcoming, prompting Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the measure into law in April, to chide federal officials for telling the news media about its plans to sue before telling Arizona state officials.