The Supreme Court's ruling on Arizona's controversial immigration law was confusing for the press, who couldn't decide whether it was a major defeat for President Obama or a victory for the federal government. But Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was not conflicted at all, saying in a statement released shortly after the verdict was handed down, "the heart of SB 1070 can now be implemented in accordance with the U.S. Constitution." What Brewer sees as the "heart" of 1070 is the provision that requires police officers to ask for immigration papers from people they reasonably suspect of being illegal immigrants. But even this heart of the law is not entirely settled.
Other politicians' reactions reflected the mixed ruling. Despite campaigning in Arizona Monday, Mitt Romney will only release a statement about the ruling, saying:
"Today's decision underscores the need for a President who will lead on this critical issue and work in a bipartisan fashion to pursue a national immigration strategy. President Obama has failed to provide any leadership on immigration. This represents yet another broken promise by this President. I believe that each state has the duty--and the right--to secure our borders and preserve the rule of law, particularly when the federal government has failed to meet its responsibilities."
In states where immigration is a major issue, there was a division between Republicans who said the ruling was a victory for new enforcement laws and those who merely said the laws were necessary because the government wasn't doing its job. That was most obvious in Alabama, which passed a harsh immigration law last summer that many businesses oppose. Republican state House Speaker Mike Hubbard declared it a victory for states like his because the "real teeth" of Arizona's law had been upheld. Republican Gov. Robert Bentley, however, was more subdued. Bentley said Alabama and Arizona's laws are similar but not identical, and he would wait and see the effect of the ruling in his state. Bently said, "State laws on immigration are required because the federal government has refused to enforce its own immigration policies."