U.S. Supreme Court Won’t Consider Key Part of Alabama Immigration Law

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a request from the state of Alabama to grant oral argument over the part of the law that makes it a crime to harbor or aid an illegal immigrant.

The decision was announced this morning, after justices met on Friday to review which cases to near in their next term.

The high court did not issue an opinion, though it did note that Justice Antonin Scalia dissented in the decision not to hear the case.

Attorney Rebekah McKinney worked on the case against Alabama's HB56 early on.

She says when the Supreme Court denied Alabama's appeal to save a major part of the state's immigration law, "It was a pretty serious blow to the state.  I won't be surprised if they come back with some other angle on it or try to revise the statute."

As far as this specific issue goes, McKinney believes it's over for Alabama, "With respect to this provision, I'm not sure what else they could do.  I believe they have hit the end of the road, unless they did some type of major revision in the legislature to the provision."

She says the court's decision essentially means that the federal government alone has the power to regulate issues of immigration, "It is designed to handle immigration across the country, and if you have piecemeal adjudications or piecemeal laws, it's hard to know how you're supposed to behave if you are an immigrant here in the United States."

But Alabama's legislative attempt to enter the fray may not be completely curtailed.

McKinney explains, "There's still parts of the law that have not been found unconstitutional, and they can still pursue them at this time."

So the legislature could take another run at passing a modified law or could encourage state leaders to fight for other aspects of the current law.

After all, one justice wanted to hear this case from Alabama - that would be Antonin Scalia.

McKinney notes, "It's interesting there was just one dissent.  We usually have a voting block - Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Roberts - voting block for what would be traditionally conservative issues."

McKinney says the fact that other conservative justices didn't join Scalia shows that most of the court may feel they dealt with immigration with their Arizona ruling.

But a spokesperson for the Alabama's Attorney General says Scalia's dissent shows the court may be willing to take up other immigration cases in the future.

The statement from the Attorney General's spokesperson says there's still plenty of litigation to go.

It says the case will go back to trial court to determine what the Supreme Court ruling on Arizona's immigration law and the Eleventh Circuit Court ruling on Alabama's law mean for immigration legislation on the whole.

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