Attorneys for the state of Arizona and the Obama administration are making their final preparations for a legal battle that will decide whether states have the right to enforce immigration law on their own terms.
The case is a result of the Arizona legislature passing its immigration enforcement law, known as SB 1070. Among other provisions, it requires police to demand citizenship papers when there's reason to believe someone they've stopped is in this country illegally.
Days before the law was set to take effect, the Justice Department sued the state in federal court to block its implementation. Judge Susan Bolton agreed with the federal government and blocked several of the law's provisions, including the proof of citizenship requirement.
A three judge panel on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Bolton's ruling. Arizona appealed and in December, the United States Supreme Court announced it would take the case.
The legal question the High Court is grappling with is whether federal immigration laws preclude Arizona's efforts at cooperative law enforcement and impliedly pre-empt four provisions of SB 1070. In other words, does Arizona have the right to enact its own immigration enforcement laws?
The legal showdown is a rematch, of sorts, between the two attorneys who recently argued the merits of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in front of the Supreme Court. Attorney Paul Clement is representing Arizona. Solicitor General Donald Virrelli is likely to argue on behalf of the federal government.
Arguments are scheduled to take place Wednesday morning and will last approximately one hour. A decision is expected by the end of June.
CBS 5 News has a reserved seat in the courtroom for the arguments and will have continuing coverage of the case through Wednesday. Keep checking www.cbs5az.com for updates from Washington, D.C.
Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.