From the Office of State Senator Leticia Van de Putte

For Immediate Release
June 25, 2012
Contact: Lee Nichols, 512-463-0126

Two Big Supreme Court Decisions on Federalism

(Austin) -- The United States Supreme Court today issued two major decisions, both dealing with issues of federalism -- one striking down major portions of Arizona's immigration law, and another striking down a Montana law limiting corporate contributions in elections. Both decisions have cause for concern, says State Senator Leticia Van de Putte (District 26, Bexar County).

The decision overturning Montana's contributions law basically upheld its previous Citizens United decision, which freed corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence federal elections.

"Politics already suffers from the public perception that the legislature's gallery or the chambers of the U.S. Senate or Congress, filled with lobbyists, is just the equivalent of a sports team's 'owner's box,'" Van de Putte said. "This decision will only enhance that belief."

In the Arizona case, three of the four challenged portions of Arizona's harsh anti-immigration law HB 1070 were struck down, but the one that the court upheld -- requiring state and local police to perform roadside immigration checks if "reasonable suspicion" exists to suspect people are in the country illegally -- is troubling, Van de Putte said.

The court said it couldn't yet gauge the impact of a law not yet on the books, but indicated future implementation will be open to further legal challenge.

"I'm thankful that most of the law was struck down," Van de Putte said, "but the opinion left open the distinct possibility that the part it upheld, the roadside checks, could still be open to other court challenges. I hope Texas doesn't follow Arizona's lead in this regard -- it would be ironic if a state that pushed so hard for tort reform passed a law that would invite litigation."