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 2:45 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts say Americans are ready for sensible gun laws, but politicians are cowed by the NRA. Everytown for Gun Safety will prove the NRA is not that powerful.
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says Steve Israel is right: Some Republicans encourage anti-Latino prejudice. But that kind of bias is not limited to the GOP.
updated 7:23 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Peggy Drexler counts the ways Phyllis Schlafly's argument that lower pay for women helps them nab a husband is ridiculous.
updated 12:42 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Rick McGahey says Rep. Paul Ryan is signaling his presidential ambitions by appealing to hard core Republican values
updated 11:39 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Paul Saffo says current Google Glasses are doomed to become eBay collectibles, but they are only the leading edge of a surge in wearable tech that will change our lives
updated 2:49 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Kathleen Blee says the KKK and white power or neo-Nazi groups give haters the purpose and urgency to use violence.
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Henry Waxman say read deep, and you'll see the federal Keystone pipeline report spells out the pipeline is bad news
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Frida Ghitis says President Obama needs to stop making empty threats against Russia and consider other options
updated 5:29 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say the Kansas Jewish Center killings are part of a string of lethal violence in the U.S. that outstrips al Qaeda-influenced attacks. Why don't we pay more attention?
updated 12:41 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Danny Cevallos says families of the passengers on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 need legal counsel
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
David Frum says Russia is on a rampage of mischief while Western leaders and Western alliances charged with keeping the peace hem and haw
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Most adults make the mistakes of hitting the snooze button and of checking emails first thing in the morning, writes Mel Robbins
updated 1:54 PM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
David Wheeler says as middle-class careers continue to disappear, we need a monthly cash payment to everyone
updated 7:55 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Democrats need to show more political spine when it comes to the issue of taxes.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Donna Brazile recalls the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act as four presidents honored the heroes of the movement and Lyndon Johnson, who signed the law
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Elmer Smith remembers Chuck Stone, the legendary journalist from Philadelphia who was known as a thorn in the side of police and an advocate for the little guy
updated 2:56 PM EDT, Sun April 13, 2014
Al Franken says Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider, wants to acquire Time Warner Cable, the nation's second-largest cable provider. Should we be concerned?
updated 11:22 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Philip Cook and Kristin Goss says the Pennsylvania stabbing attack, which caused grave injury -- but not death, carries a lesson on guns for policymakers
updated 3:06 PM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Wikipedia lists 105 football movies, but all too many of them are forgettable, writes Mike Downey
updated 10:32 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
John Sutter and hundreds of iReporters set out to run marathons after the bombings -- and learned a lot about the culture of running
updated 12:49 PM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Timothy Stanley says it was cowardly to withdraw the offer of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The university should have done its homework on her narrow views and not made the offer
updated 10:16 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Al Awlaki
Almost three years after his death in a 2011 CIA drone strike in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki continues to inspire violent jihadist extremists in the U.S, writes Peter Bergen
updated 9:21 PM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
David Bianculli says Colbert is a smart, funny interviewer, but ditching his blowhard persona to take over the mainstream late-night role may cost him fans
updated 1:31 PM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Rep. Paul Ryan says the Republican budget places its trust in the people, not in Washington
updated 5:28 PM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Aaron David Miller says Obama isn't to blame for Kerry's lack of progress in resolving Mideast talks
updated 11:22 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
David Weinberger says beyond focusing on the horrors of the attack a year ago, it's worth remembering the lessons it taught about strength, the dangers of idle speculation and Boston's solidarity
updated 12:32 PM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Katherine Newman says the motive for the school stabbing attack in Pennsylvania is not yet known, but research on such rampages turns up similarities in suspects and circumstances
updated 2:39 PM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
Wendy Townsend says the Rattlesnake Roundup -- where thousands of pounds of snakes are killed and tormented -- is barbaric
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT