Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Whiting Case Brief

Facts of the Case

Petitioner business and civil rights organizations filed a pre-enforcement suit in federal court against respondent Arizona officials, specifically those charged with administering the Legal Arizona Workers Act of 2007. The Legal Arizona Workers Act provides that the licenses of state employers that knowingly or intentionally employ unauthorized aliens may be, and in certain circumstances must be, suspended or revoked. That law also requires that all Arizona employers use E-Verify. In affirming the district court, the Court of Appeals agreed that Arizona’s law was not preempted by federal immigration law. Certiorari was granted.


“(1) Did the district court err in rejecting the habeas corpus petition on the merits?(2) Did the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit correctly deny a stay of execution of the death penalty pending appeal of the district court’s judgment?”


“No. The Supreme Court affirmed the lower court holding in an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts. “Arizona’s licensing law falls well within the confines of the authority Congress chose to leave to the States and therefore is not expressly preempted.” All five members of the majority did not join the chief justice’s opinion in full. Meanwhile, Justice Stephen Breyer dissented, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “Congress did not intend its ‘licensing’ language to create so broad an exemption, for doing so would permit States to eviscerate the federal Act’s preemption provision,” Breyer wrote. Justice Sonia Sotomayor authored a separate dissent in which she contended that she “would also hold that federal law pre-empts the provision of the Arizona Act making mandatory the use of E-Verify, the federal electronic verification system.” The Justice Elena Kagan took no part in consideration of the case.”

Case Information

Citation: 563 US 582 (2011)
Granted: Jun 28, 2010
Argued: Dec 8, 2010
Decided: May 26, 2011
Case Brief: 2011