The Supreme Court, in a 5-3 ruling on Senate Bill 1070 upholds the portion that a law enforcement officer in the course of enforcing other laws can check and detain a person who that officer believes is an illegal immigrant. Opponents say this constitutes racial profiling because if you think a person looks latino, a law enforcement officer is more likely to think he has a reasonable reason to check immigration status. Racial profiling is a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th ammendment, where states have to treat citizens equally regardless of status or group.
Political consultant Brad Bannon of Bannon Communications Research in Washington DC, says that while the court did rule to uphold this most visible and controversial portion of the bill, they gutted and rejected the rest of it, which included authorizing law enforcement officers to arrest immigrants without a warrant, making it a state crime and forbiding those not authorized for employment in the U.S. to apply for or solicity employment.
Bannon says that swing vote Justice Kennedy joined the majority in upholding this portion of the law but if you read his decision, he made a "shot across Arizona's bow" by saying that if you "implement this law and it causes racial profiling, don't be surprised if this court takes another look at it." Chief Roberts, a conservative, voted on the majority as well. Bannon believes he did so because these aspects purely have to do with immigration and the constitution says that congress, not states, have the power to regulate immigration and he voted to get the most out of this bill.
Bannon believes this is a victory for the Governor of Arizona and for Obama as well because essentially, the courts have agreed with most of Obama's legal argument that Arizona law was an infringement on the federal government's right to regulate immigration policy.
As this ruling will generate lots of talk during the current presidential campaigns, this causes a problem for Romney, says Bannon. Romney "clearly does not have an immigration position," and this makes him look bad because he's trying to hedge on the issue and that's "not very presidential." Bush won in 2004 mostly because he got 41% of the latino vote and Romney is closer to 30% and that's not going to cut it, according to Bannon.
Brad Bannon is President of Bannon Communications Research, a Washington, D.C.-based political polling and consulting firm. More information can be found at www.bannoncr.com. This video commentary was hosted by The Legal Broadcast Network, which provides on-demand legal content.