Who could have predicted that the Supreme Court decision on SB 1070, the Arizona law that kicked off the furor over state immigration enforcement, would coincide so perfectly with the heat being turned up on Eric Holder over Fast and Furious? Under Holder’s direction the Justice Department has had quite a romp going after states to enforce Obama administration policies on illegal immigration, whacking states for common sense voter ID laws and blocking their efforts to crack down on illegal immigrants that the Federal Government admits it does not have the resources to control. Will the Supreme Court decision on the Arizona law intersect with the fallout from Fast and Furious and election year necessity to spell the political demise of Eric Holder?
Fast and Furious has already made the attorney general a liability for the Obama campaign. The scandal is a treasure in an election year, something Republicans are never going to let go. The decision on the Arizona law has potentially catastrophic implications for the direction of White House policy on immigration. Holder was one of the primary enforcers during the president’s move to empower illegals by allowing them to stay in the U.S. if they keep their noses clean (see: 8 Ways We Made Sure Illegal Immigrants Had a Great 2011). If the Supreme Court decision repudiates the Justice Department’s position on state immigration enforcement, Holder’s stance on voter ID laws will also be under scrutiny, as will the entire White House stance on enforcement. Throw Fast and Furious into the mix and Attorney General Holder may be the first big casualty of the president’s 2012 campaign, a necessary sacrifice so the man at the top can save face.
The Justice Department suit over the Arizona law was one of the pivotal moments for the Obama administration’s first term, setting the tone for the president’s carrot and stick relationship with our states and the Justice Department’s quick trigger response to those that step out of line. It is ironic that a White House that wants to be known for benevolence and solicitude towards the middle class should so actively clamp down on states trying to protect their taxpayers from illegal immigration. Cracking down on voter ID laws was a necessary follow up for the administration, which again used arguments in favor of the underprivileged to justify a don’t ask, don’t tell approach to illegals.
If the Supreme Court decision on the Arizona law goes against the White House, Fast and Furious will tip the scales against Holder. Giving a thumbs up to SB 1070 and green lighting state immigration enforcement would be a blow to the president’s policy agenda that, for Republican PR value, could even eclipse the terrible Obama economy. With Fast and Furious erupting at the worst imaginable time, the question the president will have to answer is how valuable is Eric Holder if his best judgment on how to shut down state immigration laws turns out to be wrong, while a growing scandal threatens to erupt at any moment.