US Supreme Court deals blow to tough Arizona immigration law

Partial victory for Hispanic lobby as judges begin week that will culminate in vital decision on healthcare law


The US Supreme Court kicked off its most momentous week in a decade yesterday by overturning large parts of a controversial Arizona law cracking down on illegal immigration.

In another high-profile case, it also served notice that it would not retreat from a heavily criticised 2010 ruling that opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate and private donations for political campaigns.

Three of the four contested provisions in the Arizona law, which was passed two years ago, were thrown out. But a clause bitterly opposed by Hispanic and other immigrant groups, that requires police to check the papers of a person they suspect is in the country illegally, was kept in place – for the time being at least.

On balance, the outcome was a setback for the anti-immigration lobby, and could hit efforts by other states, including Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia, to clamp down on illegal immigrants. The move also made it more certain than ever that immigration will be a major issue in the presidential campaign.

However, the court's decision on campaign finance is another blow to efforts to limit the flow of private money into politics in an election year where campaign spending could reach an unprecedented $6bn. The challenge had come from Montana, whose state legislature defied the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling, arguing that Montana politics were especially vulnerable to corruption by unchecked corporate money.

That law was upheld by Montana's state supreme court, but the highest US court struck down it yesterday, with the five conservative justices outvoting the four liberals on the bench.

Citizens United has reshaped US campaign financing by allowing corporations, unions and rich individuals to pour vast sums into the presidential and other races through super political action committees (super-Pacs), which can raise and spend unlimited sums. In theory, they are barred from co-ordinating their efforts with the candidates they support, but that ban is honoured only in the breach.

All eyes are now on Thursday, when the court will rule on whether President Obama's 2010 healthcare law is constitutional. It is the court's most politically charged case since the Bush vs Gore ruling that handed the White House to George W Bush in December 2000. On that occasion the court's conservative majority prevailed by 5-4, and a similar outcome, for all or part of "Obamacare", is on the cards now. Although judges may not throw out the law in its entirety, legal experts believe they may well strike down the central provision of the "individual mandate", requiring Americans without health insurance to buy it. That would be a demoralising defeat for Mr Obama, largely nullifying the legislative achievement he hopes will be his legacy. The implications for the 2012 election are less clear, however. Republicans will claim victory but Mr Obama's supporters could also be energised, directing their fire on a supposedly neutral Supreme Court that, they say, in practice is the Republican party dressed in legal robes.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture