The Supreme Court won’t announce its ruling on the Affordable Care Act until either tomorrow or Monday, but that is hardly their only pending decision which could affect the political climate. They’re also scheduled to rule as soon as tomorrow on the constitutionality of SB 1070, the Arizona “papers, please” immigration law which institutionalizes profiling, and spawned several similar laws in other states. (See the AP report above for the basics.)
As the New York Times’ Michael D. Shear noted this morning, this puts Republican nominee Mitt Romney in an even greater political bind on an issue that given his constant emphasis on the economy, it seems he’d rather not be discussing:
If Mr. Romney continues to side with Arizona’s Republican governor, Jan Brewer, and the state’s lawmakers who back tougher immigration laws, he runs the risk of deepening the rift between Hispanics and his party. But if he abandons his tough-on-illegals rhetoric, he could provide ammunition to conservative critics who have long doubted his commitment to their causes.
Add to that the immigration policy shift which President Obama announced last week, which will allow for many younger undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation and receive work permits. Predictably, the decision came under fire from SB 1070 sponsor Russell Pearce and Arizona governor Jan Brewer, the latter of whom called it “a pre-emptive strike against Senate Bill 1070,” and said that “the timing is unbelievable.” (Is it really, though, if you accept Brewer’s implication that the rule is meant to influence the Supreme Court?)
Though he implied that the decision was purely political, we didn’t hear anything quite as Brewer-esque from Romney. The President’s call also has Romney in quite the pickle, as he still can’t seem to make a decision on where to go – and Republicans are waiting for him to take the lead. He may do just that tomorrow, per The Hill:
Romney will meet with Hispanic leaders on Thursday where he is expected to reveal his position on President Obama’s decision to halt deportations of some illegal immigrants who came to the United States at a young age, [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell said. “Both the president candidates, both the incumbent and the challenger are going to be addressing this issue Thursday at an important meeting …,” he said. “Most of my members are interested in what Gov. Romney has to say about this issue and we’re going to withhold judgment, most of us, until that time.”
Zachary Roth of our Lean Forward blog had a good write-up on this a few days ago which cited Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez’s appearance on The Ed Show, in which he made it clear that the President’s decision didn’t just make him more attractive to Hispanic voters. I wrote yesterday about the protests here over the weekend against “stop-and-frisk,” and this is about more than policy; it’s about human dignity.
While dignity has never been legally guaranteed by the Constitution, it will be curious to see whether the Supreme Court, this week or next, allows a law to stand which subjugates only a significant portion of its population with fear that one day, they’ll be looked upon as less than a citizen because some politician said we should be scared of them.
Our weekend discussion on the President’s immigration decision, and the people and politics affected, is all embedded below the jump. Among the guests was Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist (and undocumented immigrant) Jose Antonio Vargas, subject (and author) of this week’s TIME magazine cover story.