Washington (CNN) - In a telephone call with White House Counsel Bob Bauer, President Obama was briefed aboard Air Force One about a federal judge's decision to block key parts of Arizona's new immigration law from going into effect as he headed to New Jersey for remarks on the economy, according to a senior administration official.
The official told CNN that while the administration views the ruling as a positive step but is stopping short of celebrations because officials are still "sorting out what it all means" as the Justice Department anticipates a quick legal appeal by the state of Arizona.
Two White House advisers added the President is likely to stay out of the fray and not comment publicly on the ruling in order to defer to the Justice Department as he talks up the economy in New Jersey and then holds two fundraisers in New York this evening.
But inside the White House there is a feeling that the administration has at least temporarily headed off a major confrontation that would have further distracted from Obama's attempt to focus the upcoming midterm elections on jobs and the economy.
"They're happy as clams," one White House adviser told CNN about the reaction to the ruling that knocked out the provisions that would have required officers to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws.
A second White House adviser cautioned that administration officials are not quite that elated because they want to make sure they carefully review the 36-page ruling before assuming that the case has gone their way.
But this second White House adviser acknowledged that the feeling inside the administration is that the partial injunction "does quell the craziness for now" by lowering the temperature on the often-volatile and emotional immigration debate.
Sources tell CNN that at a White House meeting on Tuesday night before the partial injunction, administration officials were game-planning scenarios ahead of U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton's ruling and were concerned that she might not block the key provisions from going into law.
Under that scenario, the sources said, there was a concern inside the White House that there could be chaos in Arizona if the law moved forward on Thursday because of reports that protesters would start chaining themselves to federal buildings and trying to wreak other havoc.
While the feeling inside the Obama administration is that the President has dodged a major fracas for now, the White House advisers stressed that officials are trying to be very careful not to get ahead of themselves as the Justice Department sorts out this complex legal issue.