Last Updated 9:47 a.m. ET
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court has agreed to decide a case involving Arizona's controversial anti-illegal immigration law, S.B. 1070.
Arizona has asked the justices to allow the state to begin enforcing measures that have been blocked by lower courts at the Obama administration's request. Among those provisions is one that requires police, while enforcing other laws, to question a person's immigration status if officers suspect he is in the country illegally.
On Monday the court announced it would decide Arizona v. United States, the S.B. 1070 case. Justice Elena Kagan will be recused, presumably due to her work in the Obama Administration as Solicitor General.Arizona v. United States, 11-182 (Scotusblog.com)
The Obama administration is waging a furious legal fight against a patchwork of state laws targeting illegal immigrants. Laws similar to Arizona's - in Alabama, South Carolina and Utah - also are facing administration lawsuits. Private groups are suing over immigration measures adopted in Georgia and Indiana.
The Justice Department says regulating immigration is the job of the federal government, not states.
Arizona counters that the federal government isn't doing enough to address illegal immigration and that border states are suffering disproportionately.
The announcement that the Court will hear Arizona v. United States adds another politically charged dispute between a Republican-dominated state and the Democratic administration to the court's election-year lineup. The immigration case would be heard and decided at roughly the same time as the constitutional challenge to President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. On Friday, the justices intervened in a partisan fight over redistricting in Texas. That case will be heard in January.
In urging the court to hear the immigration case, Arizona said the administration's contention that states "are powerless to use their own resources to enforce federal immigration standards without the express blessing of the federal executive goes to the heart of our nation's system of dual sovereignty and cooperative federalism."
Many other state and local governments have taken steps aimed at reducing the effects of illegal immigration, the state said.
But the administration has argued that the various legal challenges making their way through the system provide a reason to wait and see how other courts rule.
In April, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld a federal judge's ruling halting enforcement of several provisions of Arizona's S.B. 1070. Among the blocked provisions: requiring all immigrants to obtain or carry immigration registration papers; making it a state criminal offense for an illegal immigrant to seek work or hold a job; and allowing police to arrest suspected illegal immigrants without a warrant.
In October, the federal appeals court in Atlanta blocked parts of the Alabama law that forced public schools to check the immigration status of students and allowed police to file criminal charges against people who are unable to prove their citizenship.
Lawsuits in South Carolina and Utah are not as far along.