From the L.A. Daily News
U.S. Supreme Court limits state action on immigration
By Mark Sherman
WASHINGTON - A divided Supreme Court threw out major parts of Arizona's tough crackdown on illegal immigrants Monday in a ruling sure to reverberate through the November elections. The justices unanimously approved the law's most-discussed provision - requiring police to check the immigration status of those they stop for other reasons - but limited the consequences.
Although upholding the "show me your papers" requirement, which some critics say could lead to ethnic profiling, the justices struck down provisions that created state crimes allowing local police to arrest people for federal immigration violations. And they warned against detaining people for any prolonged period merely for not having proper immigration papers.
The mixed outcome vindicated the Obama administration's aggressive challenge to laws passed by Arizona and the five states - Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah - that followed its lead in attempting to deal with illegal immigration in the face of federal inaction on comprehensive reform.
The administration had assailed the Arizona law as an unconstitutional intrusion into an area under federal control.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, joined in his majority opinion by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts as well as three liberal justices, said the impasse in Washington over immigration reform did not justify state intrusion.
"Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration while that process continues, but the state may not pursue policies that undermine federal law," Kennedy said. That part of the ruling drew a caustic dissent from Justice Antonin Scalia, who said the Obama administration doesn't want to enforce existing immigration law.
A second opinion with potentially important implications for the presidential campaign is expected when the court meets Thursday to issue its final rulings this term. The court's verdict on Obama's landmark health care overhaul probably will come that day.
In other action Monday, the court:
Ruled unconstitutional by a 5-4 vote state laws that require judges to impose sentences of life in prison with no possibility of parole on convicted murderers younger than 18.
Struck down, also 5-4, a Montana law limiting corporate campaign spending, declining to revisit the two-year-old ruling in the Citizens United case.
The Arizona decision landed in the middle of a presidential campaign in which President Barack Obama has been heavily courting Latino voters and Republican challenger Mitt Romney has been struggling to win Latino support. During a drawn-out primary campaign, Romney and the other GOP candidates mostly embraced a hard line on the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, though Romney has lately taken a softer tone.
Obama said he was pleased that the court struck down key parts of Arizona's law but was concerned about what the high court left intact.
"No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like," the president said in a written statement. He said police in Arizona should not enforce the provision in a way that undermines civil rights.
"What this decision makes unmistakably clear is that Congress must act on comprehensive immigration reform," Obama said.
In Scottsdale, Ariz., later Monday, Romney said he would have preferred that the court "give more latitude to the states" in immigration enforcement.
Romney told campaign donors that the law has "become a muddle" and that the states have more options to enforce their own immigration laws.
Earlier, he said in a statement, "I believe that each state has the duty - and the right - to secure our borders and preserve the rule of law, particularly when the federal government has failed to meet its responsibilities."
In his majority opinion, Kennedy distinguished the "show me your papers" provision from the other challenged parts of the law by pointing out that consultation between local and federal authorities already is an important part of the immigration system.
Local and state police called on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's support center more than 1 million times in 2009 alone, he said.
Kennedy said the law could - and suggested it should - be read to avoid concerns that status checks could lead to prolonged detention. "Detaining individuals solely to verify their immigration status would raise constitutional concerns," he said, but he did not define what would constitute too long a detention.
A divided court struck down these three major provisions:
Requiring all immigrants to obtain or carry immigration registration papers.
Making it a state criminal offense for an illegal immigrant to seek work or hold a job.
Allowing police to arrest suspected illegal immigrants without warrants.
The vote was 6-2 against making it a state crime not to carry immigration papers and 5-3 against the other two provisions.
Justice Elena Kagan sat out the case because of her previous work in the Obama administration.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said the ruling marked a victory for people who believe in the responsibility of states to defend their residents. The case, she said, "has always been about our support for the rule of law. That means every law, including those against both illegal immigration and racial profiling. Law enforcement will be held accountable should this statute be misused in a fashion that violates an individual's civil rights."
Civil rights groups that separately challenged the law over concerns that it would lead to rights abuses said their lawsuit would go on.
Even with the limitations the high court put on Arizona, the immigration status check still is "an invitation to racial profiling," said American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Omar Jadwat.
Carlos Beltran, looking for day labor work Monday in the Phoenix area, said he was glad to hear the court struck down most of the law.
"We can still be here today, find a job and go home and tell our wives we have something to eat tonight," said Beltran, who was born in the U.S. but whose parents are illegal immigrants.
With the ruling, however, Beltran said the potential for racial profiling will become worse. "I don't want to have my dad afraid of looking for a job. He has four kids. They shouldn't be afraid of trying to make a living," he said.
The Obama administration sued to block the Arizona law soon after its enactment two years ago. Federal courts had refused to let the four key provisions take effect.
The other states adopted variations on Arizona's law. Parts of those laws also were on hold pending the outcome of the Supreme Court case.
Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor joined all of Kennedy's opinion.
Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas would have allowed all the challenged provisions to take effect. Justice Samuel Alito would have allowed police to arrest immigrants without papers who seek work, and also to make arrests without warrants.
Scalia, in an unusual move, pointed to facts not in the record before the court when he described Obama's recently announced plans to ease deportation rules for some children of illegal immigrants.
"The president said at a news conference that the new program is `the right thing to do' in light of Congress' failure to pass the administration's proposed revision of the Immigration Act. Perhaps it is, though Arizona may not think so. But to say, as the court does, that Arizona contradicts federal law by enforcing applications of the Immigration Act that the president declines to enforce boggles the mind," Scalia said.
The case is Arizona v. U.S., 11-182.
From the Washington Times
Supreme Court: No automatic life without parole for kids
By Jesse J. Holland
WASHINGTON (AP) The Supreme Court ruled Monday that it is unconstitutional for state laws to require juveniles convicted of murder to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The 5-4 decision is in line with others the court has made, including ruling out the death penalty for juveniles and life without parole for young people whose crimes did not involve killing. Monday's decision left open the possibility that judges could sentence juveniles to life without parole in individual cases of murder but said state laws cannot automatically impose such a sentence.
We hold that mandatory life without parole for those under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment,' said Justice Elena Kagan , who wrote the opinion for the majority. She was joined by Justices Anthony M. Kennedy , Ruth Bader Ginsburg , Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor .
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia , Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented.
Even a 17½ year-old who sets off a bomb in crowded mall or guns down a dozen students and teachers is a child' and must be given a chance to persuade a judge to permit his release into society, said Justice Alito , who read his dissent aloud in the courtroom. Nothing in the Constitution supports this arrogation of legislative authority.
The decision came in the robbery and murder cases of Evan Miller and Kuntrell Jackson , who were 14 when they were convicted.
Jackson was sentenced to life in prison in Arkansas after the shooting death of a store clerk during an attempted robbery in 1999. Another boy shot the clerk, but because Jackson was present, he was convicted of capital murder and aggravated robbery.
Miller was convicted of capital murder during the course of arson. A neighbor, while doing drugs and drinking with Miller and a 16-year-old boy, attacked Miller. Intoxicated, Miller and his friend beat the man and set fire to his home, killing the 52-year-old man. Miller 's friend testified against him and got life in prison with the possibility of parole.
This is an important win for children. The court took a significant step forward by recognizing the fundamental unfairness of mandatory death-in-prison sentences that don't allow sentencers to consider the unique status of children and their potential for change, said Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, who represented Jackson and Miller. The court has recognized that children need additional attention and protection in the criminal justice system.
According to data provided to the court, roughly 2,500 people are behind bars for life with no chance of winning their freedom for murders they committed before their 18th birthday. Seventy-nine of them are in prison for crimes that took place when they were 14 or younger. More than 2,000 of them were there because the sentence was mandated by a legislature.
From the Department of Justice
Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at the COPS Hiring Program Announcement
Philadelphia ~ Monday, June 25, 2012
Thank you, Barney and good afternoon, every one. Today I'm pleased to be here in Philadelphia, and proud to join with so many critical partners including Mayor Nutter, Commissioner Ramsey, Congressman Fattah, and Senator Casey as we announce the recipients of the Fiscal Year 2012 COPS Hiring Program grant awards.
These critical investments represent the Justice Department's latest effort to support and help strengthen our nation's law enforcement community. And they reflect our understanding that in this time of growing demands and limited budgets the work of police departments nationwide has never been more important, or more difficult.
That's why today's Department of Justice and the entire Obama Administration are committed to making sure that our law enforcement partners have the tool, resources, and capabilities that they need and deserve. As part of this commitment, I am pleased to announce that more than 220 cities and counties, including the City of Philadelphia, will receive grant awards totaling over $111 million from the Department of Justice through the 2012 COPS Hiring Program. These grants will save or create jobs for approximately 800 law enforcement officers in cities and counties from Cumberland, Maine, to New Orleans, Louisiana, to Chicago, Illinois; from Tacoma, Washington, to Toledo, Ohio, to Summersville, West Virginia.
In total, nearly 200 law enforcement officers will be saved from lay-offs. And more than 600 new law enforcement officers will be hired. Importantly, this year, each of these new hires will be military veterans who have served at least 180 days in our armed forces since September 11, 2001.
This means that thanks to the 2012 COPS Hiring Program and this Administration's commitment to providing our veterans with meaningful employment opportunities more than 600 women and men who have courageously defended our liberty abroad will have the opportunity to continue serving our country here at home as local and state law enforcement officers.
It is especially fitting to speak of liberty here in Philadelphia, which to help build on this city's model community policing efforts will be receiving more than $3 million to hire 25 military veterans to serve as law enforcement officers. I'm also pleased to report that an additional $5.2 million will be awarded to your neighbors in Pittsburgh, Chester, and Aliquippa and across the river in Trenton.
These awards are coming at a critical time. Last year, thousands of officers were laid off and, due to budget shortfalls, thousands of positions could not be filled. In total, 85 percent of all law enforcement agencies reported cuts. However, despite these difficult circumstances, hard-working public servants like those here in Philadelphia have found ways to accomplish more with less; to stretch every precious taxpayer dollar; to make meaningful, measurable progress in improving public safety; and to prove the power of community policing methods. With this year's COPS grant, this work will be expanded and strengthened. And, as a result, a range of priority efforts especially those aimed at protecting our children and young people from violence and other threats will be taken to a new level.
This year's incorporation of military veteran is an especially exciting and promising step forward. Communities nationwide will benefit from the experience and expertise that these veterans will bring to their new roles in law enforcement. And those who courageously serve our country overseas will know that their fellow citizens and leaders across this Administration are committed to taking care of them when they return home.
We look forward to welcoming these new additions to our nation's law enforcement community and to building on the partnerships, and record of success, that we've established here in Philadelphia and beyond.
Again, I want to thank Mayor Nutter for his hospitality. We look forward to continuing to work with you and Commissioner Ramsey and with your colleagues and counterparts across the country to strengthen our communities and support those who keep us safe.