States' rights likely to be hot election issue

December 12, 2011

Arizona’s immigration law is scheduled to go before the United States Supreme Court in April. That’s just in time for a re-energized debate over state rights in the 2012 election. From Phoenix, Peter O’Dowd reports.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signs SB 1070Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signs SB 1070 in April 2010. (Photo courtesy of the Arizona Office of the Governor)


PETER O’DOWD: That debate hasn’t changed much since Arizona’s legislature passed SB 1070 last year. How far can Arizona – or any state -- go to enforce immigration law? The question has lingered ever since, and federal progress addressing comprehensive immigration reform has stalled.

JON FEERE: The timing of this holding is going to make it very difficult for Republicans and Democrats to ignore the issue.

PETER O’DOWD: Jon Feere is with the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington DC. He says the Supreme Court’s ruling will force politicians running for Congress and the White House to take a clear stand.

JON FEERE: So far we have heard a lot of talk from the Republican candidates about border security, which is important. But obviously immigration is a much bigger issue than that. This has the potential to widen the debate into states’ rights.

JAN BREWER: I think it’s a flashpoint in this election.

PETER O’DOWD: This is Arizona governor Jan Brewer the same day the Supreme Court decided to hear the case.

JAN BREWER: States deserve clarity from the court in terms of what role they have in fighting illegal immigration. We will now get that clarity.

PETER O’DOWD: Brewer says she’s confident the court will uphold Arizona’s right to enforce immigration law and defend its people. The Obama Administration will fight it, along with similar efforts in Alabama, South Carolina and Utah. In Phoenix, I’m Peter O’Dowd.