Lawsuits over Utah's law are still pending in federal court, and Shurtleff acknowledged "there's going to be ongoing litigation, civil rights lawsuits, people living in fear."
The Supreme Court left untouched one complaint raised in numerous lawsuits: that immigration crackdown laws encourage police to engage in racial profiling. That leaves open the possibility that, based on those arguments, lower courts could still overturn parts of various laws.
Other states including Mississippi, Nebraska and Oklahoma had previously considered immigration crackdowns that ultimately failed. It's possible the Supreme Court ruling will deter other states from considering their own laws in the future, or at least discourage them from including provisions similar to those struck down.
"I don't think this is a total victory for our side by any stretch of the imagination," said Mary Bauer, legal director of the Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center, which is challenging Alabama's law. "But I think it's a blow to other states that would think about going down this road."
Nebraska state Sen. Charlie Janssen, who sponsored a bill modeled after Arizona's last year, said he was encouraged that the Supreme Court at least upheld the one key provision allowing local authorities to check the immigration status of those suspected of being in the country illegally. But he said he wasn't sure if he would try to resurrect another immigration proposal.
"I certainly wouldn't bring something back that the U.S. Supreme Court just shot down," Janssen said.
In Oklahoma, one state lawmaker vowed to resurrect a proposal cracking down on illegal immigration. Last year, Sen. Ralph Shortey sponsored legislation that would have allowed police to confiscate property belonging to illegal immigrants. The Oklahoma City Republican said he would "absolutely" resurrect that proposal, adding that the Supreme Court ruling — in his view — says states can enforce immigration laws.
"That's all that we've asked, just let us (states) handle the problem on our own," he said.
AP reporters Meg Kinnard in Columbia, S.C., Charles Wilson in Indianapolis, Ken Miller in Oklahoma City, Dorie Turner in Atlanta, Grant Schulte in Lincoln, Neb., and Brian Skoloff and Paul Foy in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.