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SCOTUS rules on sentencing juvenile offenders

This artist rendering shows Supreme Court Justices inside the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, June 25, 2012. Photo: AP Photo/Dana Verkouteren

The United States Supreme Court ruled today that it is unconstitutional for juveniles 17 or younger convicted of murder to be automatically sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

This decision follows a ruling two years ago, which said life sentences for juveniles convicted crimes other than homicide could no longer be imposed.
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Arizona preps for SB 1070 ruling

Former Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce, the author of Arizona's SB 1070 immigration law, speaks to reporters outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, April 25, 2012, after the court's hearing on Arizona's "show me your papers" immigration law. Photo: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Presidents rarely meddle with state legislation, but two years ago on the day Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed Senate Bill 1070, a controversial bill that enacted stringent immigration measures, President Obama criticized the law as “misguided” and as undermining “basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans.”

In particular, there were four provisions that rankled President Obama as well as immigration advocates: law enforcement officers would be allowed to stop and ask the immigration status of a person; officers would be authorized to arrest immigrants without a warrant when there is “probable cause” of a crime; it would be a crime for immigrants to not carry documentation; and illegal for undocumented immigrants to work in the United States.

Critics argued that Arizona’s controversial immigration law encouraged racial profiling and discrimination, giving local law enforcement officers the power of federal immigration agents. Anti-immigration groups, however, applauded the  “attrition through enforcement” strategy, where aggressive laws would make life so difficult for unauthorized immigrants that they would choose to “self-deport” themselves.

So after the ink dried on SB 1070, Gov. Brewer backed her new law saying, “Arizona [has] been more than patient waiting for Washington to act. But decades of federal inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation.”

A couple months later, the Department of Justice came right back at Arizona with a lawsuit that challenged SB 1070, arguing that the federal government solely has jurisdiction over foreign policy issues like immigration – and not the states.
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