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Special Report

Democratic response to AZ immigration law

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," April 24, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER, D - NY: Should the Supreme Court choose to ignore these plain and unambiguous statements of congressional intent and uphold SB 1070, I'll introduce legislation that will reiterate that Congress does not intend per see to enact their own immigration enforcement schemes.

SEN. JON KYL, R - AZ: The case is in the courts, it's going to be argued tomorrow. And the timing of the hearing suggested to us that it was either an attempt to influence the court decision, which would be improper, or simply to create a political sideshow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Well, Wednesday, oral arguments start at the U.S. Supreme Court in the case the constitutionality of Arizona's controversial immigration law. That sparked Democratic action in the Senate. A Senate judiciary subcommittee hearing today, you saw a piece of that. This comes in the political context of a general election battle that likely will shape up in which the Republicans are seeing some low poll numbers, depending on the poll you look at, among Latinos across America. The Pew Research Center has a poll out that says President Obama is at 67 percent among Hispanics, 27 percent for Mitt Romney. Again, that was earlier in April.

So what about this move by Democrats? Let's bring in our special expanded panel, Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume, Juan Williams, columnist with The Hill, Steve Hayes, senior writer for The Weekly Standard, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. All, Brit, what about this move and kind of the atmosphere around it?

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the politics of it are pretty straight forward. These immigration enforcement measures like the one Arizona passed are popular with the broad public but not within the Latino community. So it cuts, this is an issue that cuts both ways.

As a legal matter, I would be surprised if the Supreme Court reversed this, because the government, what the government is saying -- what the administration is saying is that Arizona's law which basically enforces federal immigration law, in fact interferes with it, and therefore should fall because federal law is supreme. It's not at all clear to me that the justices will see it that way.

BAIER: You know Juan, you heard Senator Kyl there charging that this effort in the Senate today was really an effort to pressure the Supreme Court. And in the wake of what President Obama said in the rose garden about the health care decision, how does that play, you know, that charge Republicans are making that Senate Democrats are trying to pressure justices before this case even comes up?

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: I don't know that they are trying to pressure justices. I think it's more the case that they are playing to the political theater out there and especially to people who are concerned that this law is improper, potentially would lead to the racial profiling and the like. I think it's important to make a distinction between that argument and the argument that people will hear reported on tomorrow in the court, which has nothing to do with any business about racial profiling or discrimination against people who might look to someone as if they are illegal immigrant.

Tomorrow, the argument will be, as Brit Hume was just saying, about preemption. Is it the case that the Arizona law preempts the federal effort to have an immigration policy, that's a national policy? And the Arizona argument will be, it's not preemptive. You guys haven't been enforcing the law, you don't have a policy, and we're trying to fill a hole. And I think that you're gonna hear lots of back and forth, and of course from the liberal side the hope is actually that the court does nothing, that it's just with Elena Kagan having to recuse herself because she was a Justice Department lawyer when the Justice Department was acting against the Arizona law. They're just hoping it's four-to-four and the ninth circuit decision, from out in San Francisco, holds which would stop enforcement of the law.

BAIER: Steve, but nobody is hiding the fact that there are politics surrounding this move by the Senate today. Even Democrats are acknowledging this all kind of lays the table.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: No question. This whole thing that happened on Capitol Hill today was about the politics. We've seen this before. You've had the president out making the speeches, promising once again to go back to immigration reform, saying against all the odds that he is going to work on immigration reform; that something could happen this year. You had Democrats making that argument. This is all about politics and it has to do with the presidential election and other elections.

But if you look at the percentage of the Hispanic vote each of the last three elections has increased by a point. The total percentage of the vote that is Hispanic has increased. So, by proportion, if you have more Hispanics voting for the Democrat over the Republican, it matters more every successive election because there are more Hispanics voting.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I'm just surprised. I wonder what has gotten into the Democrats. This principle of judicial supremacy was established in 1803 and generally speaking Democrats like it. In fact they worship at the shrine of the abortion decision that 40 years ago overturned democratically passed laws on abortion restrictions in the 46 states, that not only worship that law, it's so important to them that nobody can be considered for the Supreme Court by the Democrats unless they uphold and support the abortion decision.

And now all of a sudden starting with Obama and going to Schumer, all of a sudden they are threatening the court, and saying -- Schumer is saying, if you don't overturn this law then I'm going to introduce legislation. They really ought to have a sense that the republic endures after Election Day and there is a principle at stake here, and if the parties start attacking it, the way Newt Gingrich did -- and when he did, attacked the idea of judicial supremacy earlier in the campaign he was attacked by a lot of Republicans and conservatives for opposing a principle. In the end a democracy has to have an arbiter of what's constitutional and it has to have a single arbiter, and the court is the right place. And to hear Democrats opposing it repeatedly is rather disappointing.

BAIER: Brit?

HUME: If the justices have eyes to see they will notice that the measure that Senator Schumer is talking about which will reverse the court in effect if it were to rule the Arizona law can go forward, is going nowhere, and they might be able to ram it through the Senate somehow, but it will go nowhere in the House of Representatives and therefore as a legislative matter is an gesture.

(CROSSTALK)

KRAUTHAMMER: -- not constitutional even if it passed. Once the court decides, it's decided.

BAIER: So I guess, Juan, the question is, is this a setup to run against Congress, a Republican House, and to run against the U.S. Supreme Court if health care comes back, shooting it down, if Arizona comes back upholding Arizona.

WILLIAMS: The problem here, you know is that the White House, the Democrats on Capitol Hill view the court right now as a conservative court, and a very activist conservative court. You've got several critical issues, not only health care, not only immigration. Then we're going to go into a voting rights case. This will go on now. There are highly political cases down the pipe. And the Democrats feel they can run against a court that has been, and if you look at the polls, losing some credibility with the general public with regard to its ability to be impartial, not to simply be an extension of the polarized politics that we see played out elsewhere in Washington.

BAIER: I don't know. The Supreme Court poll ratings went up after the health care arguments --

WILLIAMS: -- since 2000 and Bush versus Gore, and then you come forward -- those numbers have been going down.

BAIER: But the Supreme Court's numbers are a lot better than Congress' numbers

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: Maybe they'll do that if these decisions don't go the way that they want. Look, this is all about Hispanic voters. And President Obama did 14 points better among Hispanic voters than John Kerry did in 2004 --

BAIER: But is that a problem for Republicans, right now, as it stands today, and is that a problem for Mitt Romney?

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: I think you're going to see Mitt Romney make a major, concerted effort to reach out to Hispanic voters. He'll soften his language on things like the Arizona law, which he called a model for the nation. I don't think we'll hear him repeat that. And I do expect that he will eventually embrace something like this Marco Rubio DREAM Act Lite that is being discussed so much today.

WILLIAMS: I think that is a yes to you, by the way.

BAIER: I think so.

(LAUGHTER)

BAIER: Charles, last word?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, he'll do what he can, but I think it'll be a good thing for Republicans to attack Democrats on this tampering with judicial supremacy. I think Brit's right, the courts have a much higher standing in the consciousness of public than the Congress or even the presidency and it's not a good idea to go after it.

BAIER: Next up, the presidential campaign and the youth vote. Which voting bloc do you think is most important? We'll be right back.

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