Supreme Court clears way for decision on Alabama law

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A Supreme Court decision both striking down parts of Arizona's illegal immigration law and upholding a key provision clears the way for a ruling on a similar law in Alabama.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange says the decision Monday means the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals can now decide whether Alabama's law is constitutional.

The Supreme Court ruled that parts of Arizona's law are unconstitutional, but it says police there can check the immigration status of people they encounter. Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard says that section is the real teeth of the law in Alabama and other states.

But the Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center calls the ruling a major blow to state crackdowns on illegal immigration. The law center is among the groups fighting Alabama's law.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley on Monday issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Arizona's immigration law.

"While Alabama's anti-illegal immigration law has similar provisions as Arizona's law, the laws are not identical.  We will analyze the Supreme Court opinion to see what potential effect it might have on the provisions of Alabama's law.  State laws on immigration are required because the federal government has refused to enforce its own immigration policies.  The bottom line to Alabama's law is this: if you live and work in the state, you must do so legally.  The people of Alabama want a strong immigration law, and I will keep my commitment to uphold and enforce Alabama's anti-illegal immigration law.

The core of Arizona's anti-illegal immigration law remains.  The Supreme Court has affirmed that states can determine how they will interpret and enforce their anti-illegal immigration laws.  We are pleased that the Court recognizes the important roles of states in enforcing immigration laws."

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press contributed to this report.