Donna Gratehouse, who blogs at DemocraticDiva and elsewhere on all things Arizona, sends us this.
About 400 anti-S.B. 1070 protesters gathered outside the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., this morning as the justices heard opening arguments on the legality of the controversial 2010 Arizona immigration enforcement law.
Meanwhile today, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said S.B. 1070 and laws like it "are tearing families apart and destroying the hopes and dreams of children and making it hard for workers to exercise their most fundamental rights. These laws have legalized discrimination, encouraged racial profiling, and sanctioned egregious violations of civil and human rights, and labor laws….We are hopeful that the court will agree with the arguments made by the U.S. Department of Justice—arguments accepted by the lower courts who have already considered this case—that immigration law is exclusively federal law and, for this reason, Arizona’s attempt at state-level immigration lawmaking is unconstitutional."
Not surprisingly, observers in the court said the justices appear to be somewhat divided along ideological lines in their questioning, with the conservatives (Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, et al.) indicating they don't see the profiling as a big deal while liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor expressed reservations about it. (However, MSNBC reported at 1 p.m. EDT that the court appeared to be poised to accept the "reasonable suspicion" provision.)
Several local TV news teams and community activists are in Washington, D.C., this week to watch the proceedings and many Arizonans eagerly await the court's decision. Supporters of S.B. 1070 are confident the court will uphold the entire law, including the ability of law enforcement to question immigration status based on suspicion. Opponents say the law is unconstitutional because it targets Hispanic residents. They also are concerned that upholding S.B. 1070 will open the floodgates for other states to pass similar discriminatory laws.
Several opponents of S.B. 1070, including former U.S. Sen. Dennis DeConcini, testified at a Senate hearing chaired by Sen. Chuck Shumer yesterday about how the law has sowed division and harmed Arizona's reputation and economy. Former state Sen. Russell Pearce (who was recalled from office last November) was the only supporter of the law to appear at the hearing. Pearce defended the law (which he is largely credited with drafting) and pointed to a recent poll showing 65 percent national support for S.B. 1070. Former Arizona state Rep. and Phoenix political consultant John Loredo was unimpressed by Pearce's bravado. "Pearce says Latinos overwhelmingly support S.B. 1070. Yeah, that's why we recalled you and knocked you off the government dole."
Gov. Jan Brewer, who was invited but did not appear at yesterday's hearing, is in D.C. this week for political appearances and cable news interviews. When asked by reporters about the impact of S.B. 1070 on Arizona, she had this to say: "The worst inaccuracy is all the business about people walking down the street licking an ice cream and gonna get arrested." She did observe the hearing in the Supreme Court chamber this morning and told reporters afterward that she was "very encouraged" by the way the arguments and questioning went.