When is a loss a win? If the U.S. Supreme Court rejects the Obama Administration’s arguments and upholds Arizona’s tough immigration law, that could very well be the case.
Judging by today’s oral arguments, SCOTUS seems likely to uphold some if not all of the law, which allows Arizona police to seek citizenship documentation from drivers they pull over – and to arrest and detain those who can’t provide it.
If that happens, it could inflict serious damage on Mitt Romney’s chances of picking up the 40-45% of Latino voters he says he needs to win in November.
During the primary Gov. Romney supported harsh measures to contain illegal immigration, including Arizona’s law. He’s also held up Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts as the justices he admires most.
As the general election approaches, Romney may try to pivot to the middle on immigration. But nothing mobilizes Latinos to vote (and non-voters to register and vote) like a perceived threat to their civil liberties. If the Arizona law is upheld, there is likely to be a surge in Latino voter registration in places like Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada — all swing states.
You may recall California’s Prop. 187 in 1994. It led to a huge increase in Latino voter participation, most of whom voted Democratic, and the state GOP has never recovered. If the same happens in November, that’s bad news for Romney and the Republicans.
You can read the transcript of today’s oral arguments in the case here. Click on the “Fullscreen” button for a clearer copy.