Supreme Court
Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court decided 5-to-3 that states can punish employers who violate a mandatory E-Verify law. The court challenge was led by the U.S. Chamber of Congress against Arizona's 2007 law that suspends a business's license if they don't use E-Verify to check the eligibility of all new hires.

During the creation of the Basic Pilot Program, which is now known as E-Verify, Congress gave authority to the states to use its business licensing practices as penalty for companies that hire illegal workers. The Court used that clause in its majority opinion.

Arizona’s procedures simply implement the sanctions that Congress expressly allowed the States to pursue through licensing laws. Given that Congress specifically preserved such authority for the States, it stands to reason that Congress did not intend to prevent the States from using appropriate tools to exercise that authority. . . .

Because we conclude that the State’s licensing provisions fall squarely within the federal statute’s savings clause and that the Arizona regulation does not otherwise conflict with federal law, we hold that the Arizona law is not preempted.

-- Chief Justice Roberts wrote in the majority opinion.

Arizona became the first state in the country to pass a mandatory E-Verify bill that requires all employers to use the employment verification system. Since then, Mississippi and South Carolina have followed suit, while many more states have passed laws requiring some businesses to use E-Verify.

The ruling is a big loss for the nation's major business groups and the Obama Administration who all opposed these types of laws.

Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Alito, and Thomas joined parts of the Chief Justice's opinion. Justice Breyer filed a dissenting opinion joined by Justice Ginsburg. Justice Sotomayor filed a separate dissenting opinion. Justice Kagan removed herself from the case since she filed a brief in support of the U.S. Chamber's argument while working in the Obama Administration's Justice Department.

NumbersUSA filed an amicus brief in support of the Arizona law. Roy outlined our key points in the following blogs:

e-verify
state policies
judicial cases