The Supreme Court has agreed to rule on Arizona's controversial immigration law, setting up three politically charged cases -the health care overhaul and a fight over Texas redistricting maps- on its election-year calendar.
The justices said Monday they will review a federal appeals court ruling that blocked several tough provisions in the Arizona law. One of those requires that police, while enforcing other laws, question a person's immigration status if officers suspect the person is in the country illegally.
The Obama administration challenged the Arizona law by arguing that regulating immigration is the job of the federal government, not states. Similar laws in Alabama, South Carolina and Utah also are facing administration lawsuits.
In urging the court to hear the immigration case, Arizona says the administration's contention that states "are powerless to use their own resources to enforce federal immigration standards without the express blessing of the federal executive goes to the heart of our nation's system of dual sovereignty and cooperative federalism."
Many other state and local governments have taken steps aimed at reducing the effects of illegal immigration, the state says.
But the administration argues that the various legal challenges making their way through the system provide a reason to wait and see how other courts rule.
In April, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld a federal judge's ruling halting enforcement of several provisions of Arizona's S.B. 1070.
Among the blocked provisions: requiring all immigrants to obtain or carry immigration registration papers; making it a state criminal offense for an undocumented immigrant to seek work or hold a job; and allowing police to arrest suspected unauthorized immigrants without a warrant.
In October, the federal appeals court in Atlanta blocked parts of the Alabama law that forced public schools to check the immigration status of students and allowed police to file criminal charges against people who are unable to prove their citizenship.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.