An incomplete win for Obama
June 25, 2012 -- Updated 1808 GMT (0208 HKT)
- 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.
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.
Part of complete coverage on
May 18, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Donna Brazile says our democracy is endangered, not by the Russians, North Korea, Iran or even terrorists. To quote Pogo: "We have met the enemy and he is us."
May 18, 2013 -- Updated 1759 GMT (0159 HKT)
Photographer Arne Svenson defends his show "Neighbors," portraits of the occupants of a building near him taken through their windows.
May 18, 2013 -- Updated 0852 GMT (1652 HKT)
JR's "Inside Out" project pushes the boundary of creating more human interactions.
May 18, 2013 -- Updated 0057 GMT (0857 HKT)
With guest Rep. Keith Ellison, John Avlon, Margaret Hoover and Dean Obeidallah discuss the president's scandal trifecta, hope for immigration and what Jolie's revelation means for women.
May 17, 2013 -- Updated 1922 GMT (0322 HKT)
Roger Colinvaux says the IRS scandal is fundamentally about disclosure of donors, not tax-exempt status.
May 17, 2013 -- Updated 2057 GMT (0457 HKT)
Theater critic Kevin Williamson was kicked out of a play when he took the phone away from an audience member and threw it. He says it was worth it.
May 17, 2013 -- Updated 1556 GMT (2356 HKT)
Mike Downey says Los Angeles has well-funded but clueless sports teams.
May 17, 2013 -- Updated 1552 GMT (2352 HKT)
Grace Liu says It's time for some tiger cubs to approvingly roar for our strict and demanding parents
May 17, 2013 -- Updated 1157 GMT (1957 HKT)
Sens. Al Franken and Roger Wicker say we need a strong SEC to make sure credit ratings fraud doesn't bring down the economy again.
May 17, 2013 -- Updated 1149 GMT (1949 HKT)
Alex Castellanos says Chris Matthews is wrong; the Washington controversies result from a government that is too big to control
May 18, 2013 -- Updated 1425 GMT (2225 HKT)
Gil Welch says women must not panic over Angelina Jolie's mastectomies: 99% of women don't carry the BRCA1 gene.
May 16, 2013 -- Updated 1425 GMT (2225 HKT)
LZ Granderson says instead of reducing the blood alcohol content threshold, how about enforcing existing laws better?
May 16, 2013 -- Updated 1514 GMT (2314 HKT)
Maia Goodell says the military should use civil legal remedies on sexual assault cases.
May 16, 2013 -- Updated 1050 GMT (1850 HKT)
Donna Brazile says the lack of transparency and due process at GOP-led hearings shows their true intent: to damage Clinton's presidential prospects and Obama's credibility.
May 17, 2013 -- Updated 1109 GMT (1909 HKT)
Laura Wexler says Angelina Jolie's openness about her mastectomy fits into a pattern of celebrities who have shared secrets and helped others
May 16, 2013 -- Updated 1737 GMT (0137 HKT)
Simon Tisdall says a gruesome video might further damage the already challenged reputation and credibility of the Syrian opposition.
May 16, 2013 -- Updated 1616 GMT (0016 HKT)
Rand Paul says firing the acting head of the agency isn't enough of a remedy to the abuses that endangered individual rights
May 15, 2013 -- Updated 2026 GMT (0426 HKT)
Michael Harley says to give Tesla Model S the "best" trophy is presumptuous - it is pioneering but not flawless
Today's five most popular stories