Fox News reacted to news that the Supreme Court struck down most of Arizona's controversial immigration bill, SB 1070, by citing arguments that the one provision that was not immediately thrown out is “the heart of the entire bill,” while Fox Nation claimed the decision was a “defeat for Obama.” Fox's attempt to find a silver lining is unsurprising, as it has long been a staunch supporter of the statute. But the court's decision was overwhelmingly against the bill and the remaining provision could eventually be overturned.
In their decision today, the Supreme Court invalidated sections 3, 5(C), and 6 of SB 1070, ruling that Arizona did not have the authority to make status as an undocumented immigrant a state crime, to make it illegal for them to work in the state, and most importantly, that state law enforcement officials cannot arrest any individual on the sole basis that they have probable cause to believe the individual is in the country illegally. The one provision, 2(B), that was not immediately thrown out, allows law enforcement to check the immigration status of people arrested for other crimes, but left open the possibility that the statute could be invalidated at a later point. In his opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy noted:
There is a basic uncertainty about what the law means and how it will be enforced. At this stage, without the benefit of a definitive interpretation from the state courts, it would be inappropriate to assume §2(B) will be construed in a way that creates a conflict with federal law.
This opinion does not foreclose other preemption and constitutional challenges to the law as interpreted and applied after it goes into effect.
SCOTUSblog explained that the ruling of the court means that 2(B) can be invalidated later if enforced in a unconstitutional way:
Police Checks. Section 2(B) of the law requires the police to check the immigration status of persons whom they arrest before releasing them. It also allows the police to stop and arrest anyone suspected of being an undocumented immigrant. The Court held that the lower courts were wrong to prevent this provision from going into effect while its lawfulness is being litigated. It was not sufficiently clear that the provision would be held preempted, the Court held. The Court took pains to point out that the law, on its face, prohibits stops based on race or national origin and provides that the stops must be conducted consistent with federal immigration and civil rights laws. However, it held open that the provision could eventually be invalidated after trial.
The San Francisco Chronicle agreed that “Today's ruling left open the possibility that this provision could be reviewed later if it is enforced in a discriminatory manner.” But instead of focusing on the fact that the majority of the bill was deemed unconstitutional, Fox still went to bat for the controversial immigration bill, claiming the remaining provision was the most important part, and that it had been “upheld” by the court.
During coverage of the court's ruling, Fox News host Bill Hemmer said of provision 2(B), “many would argue that this could be the heart of the entire bill,” later adding that “Folks in Arizona oftentimes have argued that that was the heart of the matter.” Fox Nation went a step further, claiming the decision was a “defeat for Obama”:
Fox Nation later changed the headline, but continued to portray the decision as a victory for anti-immigrant forces, saying “U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Controversial Part of Tough Immigration Law.” Fox previously engaged in an all-out campaign of support for SB 1070.