The Supreme Court has struck down key provisions of Arizona's crackdown on immigrants.
But the court said Monday that one much-debated part of the law could go forward - the portion requiring police to check the status of someone they suspect is not in the United States legally. Even there, though, the justices said the provision could be subject to additional legal challenges.
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Justice Kennedy wrote the opinion for the court that was unanimous on allowing the status check to go forward. The court was divided on striking down the other portions.
Only eight of the court's justices ruled on the case because Associate Justice Elena Kagan recused herself. She served as President Obama's solicitor general when the administration decided to challenge the law.
The court alao announced that Thursday would be the last day of rulings this term, which means the decision on President Barack Obama's landmark health care overhaul probably will come that day.
Arizona's law S.B. 1070, passed in 2010, makes it a crime to be in the state as an undocumented immigrant and compels local law officials to enforce the law.
The law inspired conservatives across the country to adopt more aggressive measures against undocumented immigrants. At the same time, it spurred huge rallies across the country in 2010 (see right) , with its opponents charging the measure smacks of racism and is a disgrace to Arizona.
Rather than focusing on the law's potential to create racial discrimination, the U.S. government challenged the law in court based on the concept of federal supremacy. Immigration regulation, the federal government argued, should be in the hands of the federal government, not the states.
The Obama administration sued to block the Arizona law soon after its enactment two years ago. Federal courts had refused to let the four key provisions take effect.