WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) - The high court upheld the constitutionality of the most controversial part of the Arizona law: that police in that state be required to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect is not in the u-s legally.
By 5-3, the high court rejected the claim that's only the federal government's job.
Swing justice Anthony Kennedy sided with court conservatives, writing for the majority.
"The mandatory nature of the status checks does not interfere with the federal immigration scheme. Consultation between federal and state officials is an important feature of the immigration system," said Justice Kennedy.
The high court struck down other parts of the Arizona statute that outlawed being in Arizona and looking for work without proper papers, and a section allowing police to arrest suspected illegal migrants without warrants.
That could take some teeth out of the controversial "how me your papers" provision that the high court noted will be the subject of future lawsuits.
"It basically is allowing law enforcement to go forward and racially profile poor people and people of color. We believe this is a decision that does set back civil rights. We vow to continue fighting," said Marielena Hincapie of the National Immigration Law Center.
The ruling is a mixed result for President Obama, who sued Arizona to stop mandatory immigration checks.
Losing on that today could win him more votes from Hispanics fired up by Monday's ruling.