Skip to main content

An incomplete win for Obama

By Ed Morrissey, Special to CNN
updated 2:08 PM EDT, Mon June 25, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ed Morrissey: High court ruling on Arizona immigration law is largely a win for president
  • Morrissey: Ruling is an incomplete win since the fate of Obamacare coming within days
  • Case is a reminder Obama has done a poor job of enforcing immigration law, he says

Editor's note: Edward Morrissey is a senior editor and correspondent for the conservative commentary website HotAir.com.

(CNN) -- One of the most anticipated Supreme Court decisions in recent times -- Obamacare -- was not announced Monday. That gave an air of anti-climax to an important decision that was handed down, one with its own political baggage and implications for the election, although not nearly as fraught with peril as the health care law.

In any other session, the outcome of Arizona v. United States might have been the headline case of a Supreme Court season. Instead, the Obama administration will have to celebrate an incomplete victory in the next 72 hours before the court delivers its ruling on the fate of Obama's signature legislation.

The White House largely won in challenging Arizona's harsh 2010 immigration law, although it might be difficult to sell that point. Last year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down four provisions of the law, ruling that the federal government pre-empted state regulation on immigration. The Supreme Court mostly agreed.

Edward Morrissey
Edward Morrissey

Unfortunately for the administration, the Supreme Court reversed the lower court on the most controversial part of the law, the "show me your papers" provision that requires law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of people while enforcing other laws.

Arguably, this provision was designed to force the federal government to take action on illegal immigrants by identifying them to the Department of Homeland Security.

By upholding this provision, the Supreme Court allowed Gov. Jan Brewer to claim victory for Arizona's immigration enforcement efforts:

Voices of Arizona immigration
Arpaio: We'll continue to enforce laws

"Today's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is a victory for the rule of law. It is also a victory for the 10th Amendment and all Americans who believe in the inherent right and responsibility of states to defend their citizens. After more than two years of legal challenges, the heart of SB 1070 can now be implemented in accordance with the U.S. Constitution."

But that narrow win is tenuous. The court pointedly did not rule that the provision was constitutional, which means that further court cases may well strike it down at a later date. Arizona can put it into effect, but it probably won't take too much time before a case comes up that will put the provision back under scrutiny.

The White House will portray the Supreme Court's ruling on immigration as a principled victory over a state that had infringed on federal prerogatives to manage immigration. It may even get a couple of days' worth of traction on that argument. That won't last long, though, for two reasons.

First, the coming Obamacare ruling will vastly overshadow this nuanced win by Thursday morning. Second, this win serves as a reminder that the Obama administration has done a poor job of enforcing immigration law -- and along with Obama's recent decision to stop deporting some young illegal immigrants -- border states have no reason to expect a second term that will improve on the first.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Edward Morrissey.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 4:08 PM EST, Sat December 13, 2014
The NFL's new Player Conduct Policy was a missed chance to get serious about domestic violence, says Mel Robbins.
updated 12:40 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
The slaughter of more than 130 children by the Pakistani Taliban may prove as pivotal to Pakistan's security policy as the 9/11 attacks were for the U.S., says Peter Bergen.
updated 11:00 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The Internet is an online extension of our own neighborhoods. It's time for us to take their protection just as seriously, says Arun Vishwanath.
updated 4:54 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Gayle Lemmon says we must speak out for the right of children to education -- and peace
updated 5:23 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
Russia's economic woes just seem to be getting worse. How will President Vladimir Putin respond? Frida Ghitis gives her take.
updated 1:39 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
Australia has generally seen itself as detached from the threat of terrorism. The hostage incident this week may change that, writes Max Barry.
updated 3:20 PM EST, Fri December 12, 2014
Thomas Maier says the trove of letters the Kennedy family has tried to guard from public view gives insight into the Kennedy legacy and the history of era.
updated 9:56 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
Will Congress reform the CIA? It's probably best not to expect much from Washington. This is not the 1970s, and the chances for substantive reform are not good.
updated 4:01 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
From superstorms to droughts, not a week goes by without a major disruption somewhere in the U.S. But with the right planning, natural disasters don't have to be devastating.
updated 9:53 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
Would you rather be sexy or smart? Carol Costello says she hates this dumb question.
updated 5:53 PM EST, Sun December 14, 2014
A story about Pope Francis allegedly saying animals can go to heaven went viral late last week. The problem is that it wasn't true. Heidi Schlumpf looks at the discussion.
updated 10:50 AM EST, Sun December 14, 2014
Democratic leaders should wake up to the reality that the party's path to electoral power runs through the streets, where part of the party's base has been marching for months, says Errol Louis
updated 4:23 PM EST, Sat December 13, 2014
David Gergen: John Brennan deserves a national salute for his efforts to put the report about the CIA in perspective
updated 9:26 AM EST, Fri December 12, 2014
Anwar Sanders says that in some ways, cops and protesters are on the same side
updated 9:39 AM EST, Thu December 11, 2014
A view by Samir Naji, a Yemeni who was accused of serving in Osama bin Laden's security detail and imprisoned for nearly 13 years without charge in Guantanamo Bay
updated 12:38 PM EST, Sun December 14, 2014
S.E. Cupp asks: How much reality do you really want in your escapist TV fare?
updated 1:28 PM EST, Thu December 11, 2014
Rip Rapson says the city's 'Grand Bargain' saved pensions and a world class art collection by pulling varied stakeholders together, setting civic priorities and thinking outside the box
updated 6:10 PM EST, Sat December 13, 2014
Glenn Schwartz says the airing of the company's embarrassing emails might wake us up to the usefulness of talking in-person instead of electronically
updated 5:33 PM EST, Fri December 12, 2014
The computer glitch that disrupted air traffic over the U.K. on Friday was a nuisance, but not dangerous, says Les Abend
updated 12:40 PM EST, Fri December 12, 2014
Newt Gingrich says the CBO didn't provide an accurate picture of Obamacare's impact, so why rehire its boss?
updated 7:40 PM EST, Fri December 12, 2014
Russian aggression has made it clear Ukraine must rethink its security plans, says Olexander Motsyk, Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S.
updated 7:46 PM EST, Thu December 11, 2014
The Senate committee report on torture has highlighted partisan divisions on CIA methods, says Will Marshall. Republicans and Democrats are to blame.
updated 1:33 PM EST, Thu December 11, 2014
It would be dishonest to say that 2014 has been a good year for women. But that hasn't stopped some standing out, says Frida Ghitis.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT