Thursday, October 17, 2019
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday in Kansas v. Garcia, a case raising the question of federal preemption of the application of a state identity fraud law in a case involving criminal prosecutions of undocumented immigrants. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt summarized the state's argument in closing: "Kansas is not trying to act as an immigration enforcer, but to enforce our generally applicable identity theft laws."
The Trump administration filed a brief contending that federal immigration law did not preempt the Kansas identity left law.
News reports opined that the Court appeared closely divided. As Jimmy Hoover for Law 360 (login required) summarizes, the "justices appeared split . . . over whether federal immigration law prevented Kansas from using information on I-9 forms to prosecute three unauthorized immigrants for identity theft . . . ." According to Andrew Chung for Reuters, “[t]he court’s four liberal justices as well as conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a Trump appointee, asked questions that voiced concern that the state’s pursuit of these cases effectively gave it a way to go after unauthorized workers, a role reserved for the federal government.”
Pratheepan Gulasekaram is covering Kansas v. Garcia for SCOTUSBlog. I will update this post with Deep's recap when it is up. Update (Oct/. 17, 3;30 p.m. PST): Here is Deep's recap. The bottom line: "After a lively hour of argument, during which all but the famously reticent Justice Clarence Thomas asked multiple questions, the fate of Kansas’ application of its identity theft laws to the noncitizen-defendants remains difficult to predict. Generally speaking, however, the court’s liberal wing seemed disposed towards finding the state prosecutions preempted, whereas Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Samuel Alito appeared skeptical of the noncitizens’ preemption arguments."