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The Supreme Court's Arizona immigration ruling: How will it affect the 2012 race?
In a mixed decision, the nation's highest court largely sides with the president. But even an ostensible win in court could be a loss for Obama
 
Protesters opposed to Arizona's immigration law march through downtown Phoenix on Monday: The Supreme Court ruled that most of the strict state law is invalid.
Protesters opposed to Arizona's immigration law march through downtown Phoenix on Monday: The Supreme Court ruled that most of the strict state law is invalid.
Jonathan Gibby/Getty Images

The Supreme Court struck down the bulk of Arizona's controversial crackdown on illegal immigrants on Monday, saying that the Grand Canyon State had no right to undermine federal policy on immigration. The 5-3 ruling (Justice Elena Kagan recused herself) overturned several key provisions of the law, including a rule allowing police to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally, and a provision that made it a crime for an illegal immigrant to apply for work. But at the same time, the justices left untouched a controversial "show me your papers" provision, which allows law enforcement officers to demand proof of immigration status from people they stop or arrest for other reasons. President Obama has fought hard to overturn Arizona's strict law, while his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, has called it a model for other states. With Hispanics poised to be a crucial demographic this fall, how will the Supreme Court's decision tip the presidential vote? 

The ruling clearly helps Obama: "The decision is an election-year victory for President Obama, who led the challenge" against Arizona's tough law, says Sahil Kapur at Talking Points Memo. The justices' decision validates the president's push to sue over the law, and suggests that his Republican opponents, including Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, overreached. Plus, the ruling "could help Democrats galvanize Hispanics, who would be disproportionately targeted by the law and broadly oppose it." This gives Latinos yet another reminder that Obama is willing to go to bat for them.
"Breaking: Supreme Court overturns key parts of Arizona's immigration law"

Actually, it helps Romney: "This is likely a blessing in disguise" for Romney, says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. Now he won't have to defend Arizona's law, which, while popular with the GOP's anti-illegal-immigration base, "is problematic with Hispanic voters." Instead, Romney can now "recalibrate and sharpen" his immigration message. And remember, even this supposed "win" in court for Obama could galvanize Romney's voters by shining attention on the fact that Arizona was forced to act because of Obama's failure to develop a national solution on immigration.
"Romney, the Supreme Court, and the Arizona immigration case"

It's more complex than either side thinks: Hispanic voters will be critical in November, says Ivan Kenneally at The Christian Science Monitor. But neither candidate really seems to understand just how diverse Hispanic-Americans are. One poll recently found that 47 percent of Latinos support the Arizona law. Clearly, the Supreme Court's decision won't affect all Latinos the same way. In the end, Hispanic voters are looking for honest leadership, and neither Obama's "opportunistic pandering" nor Romney's "obdurate evasiveness" is going to cut it.
"Beyond Supreme Court ruling: Obama, Romney, and America don't get Hispanics"

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

 

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