Player of the Week: Arizona’s immigration law

The Supreme Court this week will hear oral arguments on Arizona’s controversial border-security law. 

The ramifications of the high court’s ruling will be extremely significant on the campaign trail.

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In February, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney called the Arizona law a “model” for the rest of the country. Romney’s possible running mate, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), has said it should not be a model for the nation, but he has defended it as constitutional.

Romney’s poll numbers among Hispanic voters are extremely low. And he knows it. Romney was recently overheard telling his political donors that not winning the Latino vote “spells doom for us.”

The high court will focus on state rights, specifically on whether it is legal for Arizona to deal with its 11 million illegal immigrants or whether the federal government has exclusive authority on border control and immigration measures.  The Obama administration sued Arizona two years ago, and other states that implemented similar laws, including South Carolina and Indiana, are closely monitoring the case. 

A decision is expected in late June, along with the ruling on the president’s healthcare law.

While Romney has backed the Arizona law on policy grounds, his campaign could be helped if it is struck down. The Obama campaign, meanwhile, is bracing for the healthcare ruling, but it will be talking a lot about the Arizona lawsuit in the coming weeks and months. 

Arizona is an important state this fall in the general election. There are competitive House races and an open Senate seat, and Democrats contend they can make Arizona blue in the presidential. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R), who routinely criticize the president, are going to go all out to make sure that doesn’t happen.