The United States Supreme Court Wednesday ends the argument phase of this memorable term with the Arizona immigration case. It's a legal dispute that is as complicated as are the political, social, and economic ramifications of the Grand Canyon State's legislative effort to drive out its illegal residents. The arguments will be made in turn by U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli and Paul Clement, who will be reprising the Hope-and-Crosby roles they made famous just one month ago, in the very same venue before the very same audience, during the three-day-long arguments over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
As a technical matter, Arizona v. United States is about the doctrine of implied federal preemption: whether a state may develop its own laws and policies if they are "substantively compatible" with federal immigration law and policy. As a practical matter, however, Arizona's SB 1070 has always been a form of political extortion. If you won't deal with illegal immigrants the way we want you to, Arizona said to the federal government in 2010, then we'll wake you up and shake you up by taking matters into our own hands. Oh, and while we are at it, we're going to sue you for damages for allowing our state to be "invaded.