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The Brief: June 26, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court's mixed Arizona decision on Monday may draw Texas into the center of future immigration debates.

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The Big Conversation:

The U.S. Supreme Court's mixed Arizona decision on Monday may draw Texas into the center of future immigration debates.

In a long-awaited ruling, the court on Monday delivered a split decision on Arizona's controversial immigration law, upholding its key provision but striking down three others.

The upheld provision, which fueled much of the long and intense debate over the law, requires police officers to verify the legal status of individuals they stop or arrest. The court invalidated the three other provisions — which would have allowed police to stop and arrest anyone whom they believed to be an illegal immigrant, and penalized immigrants for applying for work and failing to carry proof of legal status — on the grounds that they usurped federal law.

The ruling, though, likely gives other states, like Texas, little latitude to pass controversial immigration legislation of their own. Though the law's key provision survived, justices said it may undergo further legal scrutiny if civil rights claims over racial profiling arise after the law goes into effect.

Reflecting the court's split ruling, both Republicans and Democrats on Monday showed restraint in claiming outright victory. Gov. Rick Perry in a statement praised the court for upholding the law's central tenet but called the ruling "one step forward and two steps back — simply not good enough."

On Twitter, though, Perry later said he would renew a failed 2011 push for "sanctuary cities" legislation, which would ban cities from adopting laws prohibiting police officers from enforcing federal immigration law. "SCOTUS ruling today affirms our right in TX to ban sanctuary cities-I will again fight to pass this important bill next session," he wrote. (Find a full rundown of Texas lawmakers' reactions to the Arizona decision here.)

A number of Republican state lawmakers may also file similarly controversial legislation next session, perhaps setting Texas up for a court fight of its own.

As Anthony D. Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, told The New York Times, "If state governments enact new immigration bills, we say bring it on. We will see them in court."


  • Former state Rep. Paul Sadler and retired educator Grady Yarbrough, the two Democrats competing in a runoff for U.S. Senate, will debate today for one hour in Dallas at the studios of PBS affiliate KERA, which will air the program at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. The Tribune, a partner in the debate, will also post video of the event.
  • In addition to issuing its immigration decision on Monday, the Supreme Court also barred mandatory life sentences for juvenile murderers, a decision that has left questions about the 27 Texas inmates who were incarcerated for life without the possibility of parole before the age of 18. The court also declined to revisit the 2010 Citizens United case, which allowed groups to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on behalf of candidates.
  • Temperatures soared past 100 degrees in parts of the state on Monday, helping set a new June record for power demand, the state's grid operator reported. According to the Houston Chronicle, demand peaked at 65,047 megawatts between 4 and 5 p.m., breaking the record set last year on June 17. And that record could fall again today, with demand expected to top out at over 66,000 megawatts.


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