The Supreme Court issued its decision in the Arizona business license/e-Verification law of 2007 and by a 5-3 margin has upheld the law. This is the law that allows the state to revoke business licenses for firms knowingly hiring unauthorized workers and also mandating all employers use E-Verify. This was always going to be an easier case for Arizona than the defense of its 2010 law. For one, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 which created the employer sanctions system, says that while states may not impose civil and criminal penalties on employers hiring unauthorized workers, it does allow for licensing provisions to be used. And Arizona's law is limited to business license revocations. That contrasts with laws in other states that apply all sorts of other penalties including criminal sanctions.

The Court also upheld the e-Verify mandate arguing that while the 1996 law creating the system bars the federal government from mandating its use, it does not do the same for states. That seems to be contrary to the intent of Congress which wanted e-Verify to be a voluntary program.

The case at this point means that business license and e-Verify laws around the country are likely to survive. And it could be bad news for those fighting renter licensing laws as well as other state and local laws that create some kind of licensing sanction.

Chief Justice Roberts wrote the part upholding the business license law and that one came in at 5-3 with only Justices Sotomayor, Breyer and Ginsberg dissenting. Justice Kagan recused herself because she was involved in the case when she was Solicitor General.



Arizona E-Verify Case