Supreme Court Allows Racial Profiling Section of SB1070, Leaves Open Possibility of Further Legal Action on Racial Profiling


Today, the U.S. Supreme Court correctly decided that some provisions of the law were unconstitutional but the Court allowed the racial profiling provision to go into effect. SB1070, passed in April 2010, requires Arizona residents to prove their residency status, if, during lawful police stops, officers have reasonable suspicion that they are undocumented. 

“It is clear that SB1070 will lead to racial profiling on a massive scale as police will be required to ask for papers of anyone they “suspect” to be undocumented.  Since there are no objective indicators of who is or is not undocumented, police will likely rely on inappropriate factors such as skin color or language accent,” said Margaret Huang, executive director of Rights Working Group.  “This law is historically unprecedented because it will require every person in Arizona to carry documents to prove their citizenship or immigration status in the event that they are stopped by the police.  Free democratic states generally do not require individuals to carry identification at all times.” 

Rights Working Group welcomes the court’s decision on the three other provisions of the law, noting that the decision should serve as warning to other states considering passing similar laws that such an unwarranted intrusion into federal immigration enforcement is unconstitutional. Though the Court upheld SB 1070’s racial profiling provision, the decision leaves open the door for it to be overturned on other grounds and opportunities for the lower courts to keep the law from going into effect based on existing challenges to SB 1070 from civil rights groups. 

RWG calls on the nation to stand with communities of color in Arizona, who will bear the brunt of this racial profiling law, and to continue  to fight for constitutional protections—such as the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of equal protection of the lawto be restored. Rights Working Group also calls for passage of the End Racial Profiling Act, which would ban racial profiling based on race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, and gender at the federal, state and local levels.

The RWG coalition urges President Barack Obama to exert leadership in fighting against all forms of racial profiling, adopt policies that will require all law enforcement agencies to ban racial profiling. Rights Working Group also calls on all advocates of racial equality and fairness to redouble their efforts to fight against SB1070 and all other discriminatory laws.


For more information on the decision and its implication, join today's call: SB 1070 Decision Analysis Call, 2:30ET 6/25

See RWG's factsheet: SB 1070: A Law That Mandates Racial Profiling

Read RWG's press statement: Rights Working Group Calls for Renewed Fight Against Arizona SB1070 Law, as Key Racial Profiling Provision is Upheld by Supreme Court

See the Supreme Court decision here.