The Supreme Court takes on Arizona's immigration law: Bad for Obama?

Team Obama was hoping the high court would put the controversial issue on the back burner as the 2012 election heats up. No dice

Immigration will be front and center during President Obama's re-election campaign, with the Supreme Court set to rule on Arizona's controversial crackdown by June 2012.
(Image credit: CC BY: The White House)

Add a fiercely polarizing immigration law to the list of controversial topics being tackled by the Supreme Court in its "potentially epic" term. The nation's highest court announced Monday that it would rule on the constitutionality of Arizona's headline-making crackdown on illegal immigration, virtually assuring that the issue will become a key point of contention in the 2012 presidential race. The review adds to an already high-profile caseload that includes challenges to President Obama's health-care reform law. A decision on the immigration law, which was strongly opposed by the White House, is expected by late June, just as the general election is heating up. Does thrusting the volatile immigration issue into the race help or hurt the president's re-election chances?

This could hurt Obama: Sure, putting immigration front and center during the campaign could boost "Obama's appeal among Latinos," says Josh Gerstein at Politico. But Obama will pay a price, too. That's because this case's prominence will likely diminish the president's appeal to "swing voters who tend to be broadly supportive of legislation to rein in illegal immigration."

"Arizona immigration law to be heard by Supreme Court"

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Actually, even an unfavorable decision could help Obama: "Counterintuitively, I think the White House privately wants to lose the case," says Mark Krikorian at National Review. It would give Team Obama an opportunity to show "leftist allies how important it is to get out the vote, however disappointed they might be in The One's performance, because he'll appoint justices that won't rule like this."

"Supremes to hear Arizona immigration appeal"

It all depends how the court rules: The Obama administration wanted the Supreme Court to "steer clear of the issue," says David G. Savage at the Los Angeles Times. Arizona's law complicates a re-election bid that is already a minefield. Yes, a victory would allow Obama to tell his Latino supporters that he stopped an unjust immigration crackdown. But a loss would be an embarrassing rebuke. And win or lose, the prominence of this case will "elevate illegal immigration as a political issue," and potentially fire up the GOP base.

"Supreme Court may weigh in on Arizona immigration law"

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