Supreme Court Decision in Arizona v. United States Cites Cleary Gottlieb Amicus Brief on Behalf of 44 Former Attorneys General

June 25, 2012

Cleary Gottlieb submitted an amicus brief on behalf of Former Arizona Attorneys General Terry Goddard and Grant Woods and 42 other former Attorneys General in support of the United States’ position in its suit against Arizona’s immigration law, S.B. 1070.

On June 25, 2012, the Court, in a majority opinion authored by Justice Kennedy and joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor, struck down three of four provisions of S.B. 1070 on federal preemption grounds. The stricken provisions would have (i) made it a state misdemeanor to be an unauthorized alien, (ii) made it a state misdemeanor to seek work as an unauthorized alien, and (iii) permitted warrantless arrests where police officers believed an individual had committed an immigration law violation.

In discussing the fourth provision, Justice Kennedy cited the concern raised in the brief authored by Cleary Gottlieb on behalf of the Attorneys General—that the provision could be read to require that state officers detain individuals solely to confirm their immigration status—and narrowly construed the provision to preclude such a reading. Justice Kennedy also acknowledged that further preemption and constitutional challenges might be brought after this provision of S.B. 1070 is applied.