WASHINGTON — Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia rejected criticism that he improperly went outside the court record in his dissent to last term’s decision on Arizona’s immigration law, saying his consideration of the president’s remarks was appropriate.
President Obama’s statements that his administration wouldn’t enforce parts of immigration law, made after the Supreme Court heard the case, brought into question the solicitor general’s arguments, Scalia said in an interview Sunday on “Fox News Sunday.” He dismissed criticism by US Circuit Judge Richard Posner, who said Scalia’s dissent read like a campaign speech.
“He’s a court of appeals judge, isn’t he?” Scalia, 76, said of Posner. “He doesn’t sit in judgment of my opinions as far as I’m concerned.”
The Supreme Court scaled back Arizona’s first-of-its-kind crackdown on illegal immigrants in a 5-to-3 decision June 25, striking down three provisions while asserting the federal government’s exclusive role to set immigration policy.
Solicitor General Donald Verrilli argued against the Arizona statute on the basis that only US authorities should decide how to allocate resources to conduct enforcement along the border with Mexico, Scalia said.
Obama later said the administration would no longer enforce the law with deportations of undocumented children “because it was the right thing to do,” demonstrating that priorities were not the issue and leaving Arizona free to enforce the federal statutes on its own, Scalia said in his dissent. “I didn’t say he had no authority to do it,” Scalia said Sunday of the president’s remarks. “I said he may well be right in doing it. But it demonstrates the point that Arizona is being prevented in enforcing immigration law even when the executive, rightly or wrongly, simply chooses not to enforce it.”