Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting: What term will the Court use?

October 3rd, 2010

Last term Justice Sotomayor’s opinion in Mohawk Industries v. Carpenter was notable, noted Adam Liptak, because it “marked the first use of the term ‘undocumented immigrant,'” rather than “illegal immigrant,” which “has appeared in a dozen decisions.”

The Court may get another chance this term to address this issue, in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, which uses the term “unauthorized aliens” in the Question Presented:

Whether an Arizona statute that imposes sanctions on employers who hire unauthorized aliens is invalid under a federal statute that expressly preempt[s] any State or local law imposing civil or criminal sanctions (other than through licensing and similar laws) upon those who employ, or recruit or refer for a fee for employment, unauthorized aliens. 8 U.S.C. ยง 1324a(h)(2).

The Arizona statute in question provides, in part:

An employer shall not intentionally employ an unauthorized alien or knowingly employ an unauthorized alien.

The Federal Immigration Reform and Control Act provides, in part:

In general it is unlawful for a person or other entity to hire, or to recruit or refer for a fee, for employment in the United States an alien knowing the alien is an unauthorized alien

I am curious what term the Justices will use during oral arguments, and what term they will use in the ultimate opinion.