On Monday, in what was seen as a big win for the administration, the Supreme Court struck down three of the four challenged sections of SB1070, the Arizona immigration law signed by Gov. Brewer in 2010. The provision the court saw as constitution was the so-called “show me your papers” section, which states that Arizona police officers may inquire the legal status of a person if there is reasonable suspicion the person may be illegally in the country.
This provision has essentially been the heart of the legislation and has also sparked the most fury from those who believe the law will lead to racial profiling. However, the high court mentioned in its opinion that the law would be struck down if cases arise in which racial profiling has been used.
To get to the politics of the decision, this is a clear win for the Obama team and bad news for Mr. Romney and his campaign. To be honest, it’s not clear if anything could be deemed a win for Romney on the subject of immigration, as he is desperately trying to peel away Latino support for Obama while vocally supporting the Arizona immigration law, which Hispanics loathe.
However, the decision was a win for Mr. Obama on two fronts. Not only did the government essentially win the case in court, it also brought the attention back to the (still legal) “show me your papers” portion of the law. Obama was again seen as fighting for the Latino community while the perception held that Mr. Romney doesn’t understand their problems.
But Monday was a pinprick compared to the explosion later in the week. Anticipation had been building for months with observers, myself included, guessing how the Supreme Court may rule on Obamacare and what the implications would be in each scenario.
Ever since the oral arguments in late March, pundits and politicos had been gravitating toward the near unanimous conclusion that at least part of the ACA would be found unconstitutional. On Intrade, an online bettors market, the odds of the individual mandate being struck down rose to over 75% the night before the decision was announced.
Let’s just say that the other 25% made a lot of money on Thursday. In what will be remembered as one of the landmark Supreme Court decisions in U.S. history, the high court ruled 5-4 that the entire law was constitutional. What’s more, conservative Chief Justice John G. Roberts sided with the liberal members of the court (for the first time in seven years) to give the ruling a non-partisan skew.
In the wake of the announcement, it was immediately clear who was to benefit most, politically. The President was able to keep his signature legislation. Further, a conservative member of the court validated Obamacare. Progressives seemed more fired up about the law than at any other point since it was signed into law.
Mitt Romney lost a main argument he was testing out before the ruling was made: that President Obama wasted the first year of his Presidency focused on an overreaching, unconstitutional law. Romney was going to make the claim that Obama is an ineffectual President.
There are probably still more examples Mitt can use to make that claim, and he likely will. Further, Mr. Romney’s supporters have likely never been more fired up about electing him in November. Sure, they don’t’ really like him much, but they loathe the President, and that energy will likely prove useful as the general election campaign heats up.
Finally, on to polling. As I noted last week, with the exception of the Bloomberg poll, which gave the President a commanding 13-point lead, the average of the polls had essentially remained about the same, with the President inching up only slightly. However, this week’s polling has shown a pretty clear shift away from Mitt Romney and towards Mr. Obama.
The RealClearPolitics average now has the President up by 3.7%, the largest margin Obama has had since April. What’s more, even Republican-leaning pollsters like Gallop and Rasmussen are now showing the President with a lead (albeit small). It will be interesting to see if Obama also gets a slight bounce in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decisions this week.
Who Won the Week? President Obama