Law professor Peter J. Spiro has a very interesting “briar patch” take on tough state immigration laws and the Supreme Court:*
“Such laws [Arizona’s S.B. 1070 and similar laws in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Indiana] are misguided at best, mean-spirited and racially tainted at worst. The conventional wisdom among immigration advocates is that immigrant interests will be best served if the Supreme Court makes an example of Arizona’s law by striking it down.
“But in the long run, immigrant interests will be better helped if the Supreme Court upholds S. B. 1070. Laws like Arizona’s are such bad policy that, left to their own devices, they will die a natural death — and their supporters will suffer the political consequences.
“Undocumented immigrants may themselves be politically powerless, but they have powerful allies. In Alabama and Georgia, dismayed farmers have watched crops rot in the fields for want of immigrant labor. Arizona is estimated to have lost more than $140 million from convention cancellations made in protest.
“Even more important is the prospect of lost foreign investment. Caught in the net of Alabama’s law in November was a German Mercedes-Benz executive, who left his passport at home while out for a drive and as a result found himself in a county jail. Mercedes has a plant in Tuscaloosa that employs thousands of Alabamans and adds many hundreds of millions of dollars to the state economy. That embarrassment will make the next foreign company think twice as it scouts out a location for a manufacturing facility in the United States.”
* “Let’s Arizona’s Law Stand,” NYT