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Racial Profiling Legalized in Arizona

20 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2012 Last revised: 25 Apr 2012

Marjorie Cohn

Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Date Written: April 16, 2012


In 2010, Arizona enacted S.B. 1070, which legalizes racial profiling in that state, and effectively converts local law enforcement officials into de facto U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. This article argues that the statute is unconstitutional because it violates the Fourth Amendment, is void for vagueness, and violates the Supremacy Clause. S.B. 1070 also suffers from practical deficiencies in that it will harm communities and increase harassment of Latinos. In addition, it runs afoul of universally recognized human rights. Other states have passed laws similar to S.B. 1070. The constitutionality of S.B. 1070 is currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, which will issue a decision by the end of its 2011-2012 term. The Court is reviewing an opinion by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturning some provisions of S.B. 1070 as violative of the Supremacy Clause.

Keywords: S.B. 1070, racial profiling, Arizona immigration law, immigration enforcement, immigration status, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Governor Jan Brewer, preemption, federalism, Supremacy Clause

JEL Classification: K14, K39

Suggested Citation

Cohn, Marjorie, Racial Profiling Legalized in Arizona (April 16, 2012). Columbia Journal of Race and Law, Vol. 1, No. 2, p. 168, 2012; Thomas Jefferson School of Law Research Paper No. 2040532. Available at SSRN:

Marjorie Cohn (Contact Author)

Thomas Jefferson School of Law ( email )

1155 Island Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
United States
619-961-4219 (Phone)

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