If I’m reading the articles correctly (you can read the Republic’s account here), yesterday’s Supreme Court hearing on SB 1070 might eventually result in No Big Deal.
The lawyer for the state,Paul Clement, early in the hearing told the Justices that Section 2 of the law — the one about detaining suspected illegal immigrants — is no different than current law.
That is, if law enforcement suspects a person they arrested on another crime to be here illegally, the agency contacts ICE; if ICE doesn’t want the person detained, the agency must release him.
The concern of some liberal Justices was the potential for abuse they found in Section 2, which some believe isn’t enough to overturn Section 2.
Some legal experts were surprised by Clement’s position, that it wasn’t even a part of the challengers’ brief. But why is that surprising when supporters have argued since the beginning that 1070 only supports existing law?
The only change that Section 2 of 1070 creates, then, is the mandatory aspect of it — that is, an Arizona agency must contact ICE. Prior to that, the agency had some discretion.
And — according to not only the Republic but other media sources as well — two of the other sections appear to be headed for overturning (key word? “Appear”).
So if other provisions are outlawed and what supporters call the “key provision” is just reinforcing the status quo, what’s the Big Deal?
Beyond the chances for racial profiling to be one reality of the law, the answer? Politically.
If any part of the law is found constitutional, does that help springboard Russell Pearce back into the state senate, and if so, does he come back with renewed power?
And does that mean a new round of immigration bills in next year’s legislature, supporters emboldened by the Court decision?
Nationally, will Republicans use a favorable Court decision on Section 2 against Obama, arguing that an ICE under President Romney would more vigorously enforce immigration laws in conjunction with local law enforcement, that ICE under President Obama is too lenient?
Or will Romney try to avoid that issue, hoping to still capture some of the Hispanic vote? Or will he embrace the decision, figuring that he can’t get much of the Hispanic vote anyway and needs to solidify his conservative base?
Most importantly, will the Court’s decision on Obamacare overshadow SB 1070, making it a minor part of the 2012 Presidential campaign?
I can’t remember an election where Court decisions that come during the campaign will have the potential to affect the outcome as much as the two decisions that will be reported in June.
It’ll be an interesting fall.