The Supremacy Clause v. S.B. 1070: Can Arizona’s Strict Illegal Immigration Law Withstand Constitutional Challenge?

Michael Carroll, Executive Editor, Albany Government Law Review Member

Introduction

            Trackers searching for Rob Krentz could not locate him using a thermal imager.  His body was too cold.  Rob Krentz was dead.[1]

            Mr. Krentz was a member of “one of the best-known and oldest ranching families . . . in southeast Arizona.”[2]  On March 27, 2010, he was found dead on his 35,000 acre ranch after suffering fatal gunshot wounds.[3]  Prior to his death, Mr. Krentz was riding around his property in an all-terrain vehicle when he radioed to his brother that he “was aiding someone he believed to be an illegal immigrant.”[4]  Presently, the authorities are unsure who killed Mr. Krentz.[5]  However, because of the “radio transmission . . . and heavy drug and illegal immigrant trafficking in that area,” it is widely suspected that Mr. Krentz was killed by a cross border drug smuggler or human trafficker.[6]

            Prior to Mr. Krentz’s death, the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act (S.B. 1070) was introduced into the Arizona State Legislature.[7]  This strict immigration measure was initiated largely “because border authorities [in Arizona] arrest more people and seize more drugs than . . . any other state.”[8]  After Mr. Krentz’s death, he became the “face” of the Arizona immigration debate.[9]  Some politicians even pushed to name S.B. 1070 the “Rob Krentz law.”[10]  In fact, one month after Mr. Krentz’s mysterious death, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed S.B. 1070 into law.

            Following the passage of S.B. 1070, Hispanic families throughout Arizona have felt uneasy about living and working in the state.[11]  For example, Manuela Quintana and her husband lived in Phoenix for fifteen years.[12]  All of their children are American citizens because they were born in the United States.[13]  Both Manuela and her husband are illegal immigrants.[14]  They fear that S.B. 1070 will lead to their imprisonment, and therefore, separation from their children.[15]  Because of these fears, the Quintana family packed all of their belongings and decided to move to Colorado, a state with less stringent immigration regulations.[16]  Before making this trip, Manuela spoke to a reporter and reaffirmed her belief that although she traveled to the United States illegally, she was not a criminal.  She stated, “‘a criminal is someone who kills . . . I just want to work.’”[17]

Continue reading “The Supremacy Clause v. S.B. 1070: Can Arizona’s Strict Illegal Immigration Law Withstand Constitutional Challenge?”

The Right to a Public Trial: Should Jury Selection in Criminal Cases Be Open to the Public?

Amanda Cluff, Government Law Review Member

I. Background

In criminal procedure, the pretrial jury selection process has rapidly altered within the last two decades.  No longer can a criminal trial be considered private and confidential, but rather the law has changed in favor of what is known as “open courtroom” proceedings.[1]  This process invites the public and press to observe a trial fully, without any inhibitions, including the questioning of prospective jurors.[2]  As the result of a recent Supreme Court decision, states must now grant an accused defendant the right to a public jury selection once requested, particularly the voir dire questioning that a prospective juror must go through.[3]  However, arguments have recently arisen over how jury selection will be affected by this change, and whether or not a public voir dire will irrevocably damage the process of finding a fair and impartial jury.

 

II. The Right to a Public Trial in Criminal Cases

In recent years, although the right to a public trial has been upheld, no one knew exactly how far that right could extend.  The Sixth Amendment observes that “[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial. . . . ”[4]  In addition, the Supreme Court has recently held that “[t]rial courts are obligated to take every reasonable measure to accommodate public attendance at criminal trials.”[5]  In fact, they have even gone as far to assert that there is a “presumption of openness” at a trial that “may be overcome only by an overriding interest based on findings that closure is essential to preserve higher values and is narrowly tailored to preserve that interest.”[6]  It is clear that this kind of burden is very difficult to obtain, and therefore, most cases are deemed public and open before they even commence. What is less clear is in what circumstances the jury selection in a public criminal trial can become a private matter.

Continue reading “The Right to a Public Trial: Should Jury Selection in Criminal Cases Be Open to the Public?”

Measles, Mumps, Rubella . . . Swine Flu?

Ian Group, Government Law Review member

It is relatively rare that in adulthood we are faced with vaccinations as most are administered during childhood, for federal law requires United States residents to be vaccinated for diseases such as measles, rubella and polio.[1]  Similarly, New York State requires residents be vaccinated for measles, mumps, and rubella.[2]  But whereas shots as we know them are like a right of passage for children, the widely publicized 2009-H1N1 epidemic presented health care workers in New York State with an interesting dilemma: a regulation requiring them to get an immunization shot for the virus. 

In his response to the epidemic, the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health, Dr. Richard F. Daines, M.D., announced a regulation from the New York State Hospital Review and Planning Council requiring all health care workers[3] in New York State be vaccinated with both the seasonal flu and 2009-H1N1 flu vaccination by November 30th of this year.[4]

Continue reading “Measles, Mumps, Rubella . . . Swine Flu?”