In a 5-3 vote, the court concluded that federal immigration law doesn’t prevent the state from revoking the business licenses of companies that violate state law. The Arizona law also requires employers to use the federal government’s web-based E-Verify system to determine whether potential employees are eligible to work within the United States. The court upheld this provision, saying it is “entirely consistent” with federal law.
Roberts, backed by his four conservative colleagues, said “Arizona went the extra mile in ensuring that its law tracks (the federal law’s) provisions in all material aspects.”
In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted E-Verify is a voluntary program, and said criticism that the federal government is not doing enough to enforce the law is irrelevant.
This case could serve as a bellwether to how the court will view a larger, more controversial state immigration law from Arizona. Much of that statute was tossed out by a federal judge in August and is currently pending at a federal appeals court. It would, among other things, give police authority to check a person’s immigration status if officers have a “reasonable suspicion” that the individual is in the country illegally.