Supreme Court takes up Arizona's controversial immigration law requiring police to check residency

The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court sit for their official photograph Oct. 8, 2010, at the Supreme Court in Washington. From left to right, front row: Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. From left to right, back row: Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice Samuel Alito Jr. and Associate Justice Elena Kagan.
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(CBS News) The Supreme Court takes up the hot-button political issue of illegal immigration Wednesday over a controversial Arizona law requiring police officers to check the residency status of people they think are in the United States illegally.

Under the law, people unable to prove that they are legal U.S. residents could be arrested. The Obama administration sued Arizona over the law, arguing that only the federal government has authority over immigration policy, not individual states. An injunction has put the law's more controversial parts on hold until the justices hand down a decision.

"The specific legal issue in the Supreme Court is about federal power and specifically whether Congress has the exclusive power over immigration or whether states like Arizona can get involved and pass tough, new immigration laws of their own," Jan Crawford told Erica Hill and Charlie Rose on "CBS This Morning."

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The immigration case touches on one of the same legal issues as the court's examination earlier this year of the president's health care reform law: The power of the federal government.

"These arguments this morning are going to be fascinating because we may be able to get some clues on which way the justices will lean, just like we did in the health care case," said Crawford, "so I think we'll have a lot better idea tomorrow. A lot of people think it'll break along those traditional party lines. I wouldn't be so sure in this one."

Above, watch Jan Crawford preview Wednesday's oral arguments in Washington