Romney Critical of Supreme Court Decision

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Reacting to the Supreme Court's decision regarding Arizona's controversial immigration law, Mitt Romney criticized the ruling, declaring it will leave states with less options.

"I would have preferred to see the Supreme Court give more latitude to the states, not less," Romney told about 250 people at a fundraising event that raised at least $2 million for the candidate. "There are states now under this decision [that] have less authority, less latitude to enforce immigration laws."

Romney called the nation's immigration laws "a muddle," and said the courts needed to step in only because of what he called the president's inability to create comprehensive reform.

"The president promised in his campaign that in his first year he would take on immigration and solve our immigration challenges," he continued Monday. "Because he didn't act, states and localities have tried to act."

The Supreme Court in a 5-3 decision gutted most of the controversial law, signed by Republican Governor Jan Brewer in 2010. It blocked three of the four provisions up for debate, but kept the most controversial part allowing law enforcement to determine the immigration status of anyone they stopped or arrested.

Romney had been silent on today's ruling before his early-afternoon comments. His campaign issued a written press release saying the president had "failed to provide any leadership on immigration", but did not directly address the Supreme Court's decision.

When pushed by reporters on how the Governor felt about the decision, or if he supported the Arizona law, traveling press secretary Rick Gorka repeatedly dodged the questions, instead saying Romney "supports the state's right to do this."

During the primaries, Romney called the Arizona law a "model" for other states to follow, and said he would have withdrawn the federal government's lawsuit challenging its constitutionality. 

However, his silence today could be seen as backing away from his previous statements in an attempt to appeal to Hispanic voters. A Gallup poll released today showed Romney trailed President Obama amongst Latinos by a 2-1 margin, similar to McCain in 2008. Closing that gap could help in crucial Western swing states like New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada.

Here is the earlier statement provided by the campaign:

"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. As Candidate Obama, he promised to present an immigration plan during his first year in office. But 4 years later, we are still waiting."