2012 News Releases

Schmidt asks Supreme Court to uphold state immigration law authority

Release Date: Feb 15, 2012

TOPEKA – (February 15, 2012) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt this week urged the United States Supreme Court to uphold state authority to enforce immigration-related laws within their borders.

Schmidt and 15 other state attorneys general filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to recognize the authority of states to enforce immigration-related laws within state borders unless Congress has expressly pre-empted state authority to do so. The attorneys general urged the Supreme Court to overrule the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has blocked the State of Arizona’s attempt to enforce immigration-related laws in Arizona.

“The fundamental flaw of the 9th Circuit’s reasoning is that it is not consistent with our Constitution’s system of dual sovereignty,” the attorneys general wrote. “The most basic ‘police power’ is the authority to arrest a person who has violated the law. But under the 9th Circuit’s reasoning, a state is forbidden to make such arrests, unless specifically authorized by Congress.”

The case, Arizona v. United States, arises from the so-called Arizona immigration law, which spurred considerable debate and controversy. A federal judge in Arizona blocked parts of the law, and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco also objected to the measure. The United States Supreme Court has agreed to resolve the dispute, and oral arguments are scheduled for April 25.

Schmidt said the key issue was state authority and federal pre-emption.

“At issue here is the ability of Congress to extinguish a state’s general police power to enforce laws within its borders,” Schmidt said. “Our position is that states have general law-enforcement authority unless Congress expressly acts to take the power away.”

The states’ brief is available online at http://ag.ks.gov/docs/documents/arizona-v-us-amicus-brief.pdf.

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News releases issued prior to 2011 are available through an archive hosted by the Kansas State Library.