Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Supremes Sympathetic to Arizona Profiling Law
"Justices seem sympathetic to central part of Arizona law." The headline suggests the Supreme Court has once again used a case to turn our political system farther to the right, in this case using a race-baiting anti-immigration law. (And no doubt the Roberts regime deserves such cynical suspicions.) But the real story here, as has often been the case during the Obama Administration, is how the executive branch has evaded a political fight against reactionary forces. This latest example: rather than argue SB 1070 was racist not only in practical outcome but in design, they instead only argued it was unconstitutional due to states taking supposedly federal-only powers. If you think I am making this up, here's the exchange during oral arguments between Chief Justice John Roberts and Solicitor General Donald Verrilli that says it all:
Roberts: Before you get into what the case is about, I’d like to clear up at the outset what it’s not about. No part of your argument has to do with racial or ethnic profiling, does it? I saw none of that in your brief.
Verrilli: That’s correct.
Roberts: Okay. So this is not a case about ethnic profiling.
Verrilli: We’re not making any allegation about racial or ethnic profiling in this case.
By this logic, it would be okay for federal agents to demand papers from people proving they are US citizens (which is what AB 1070 is about.) The problem, according to the Obama Administration, is who is doing it and not is what being done.
To her credit, Justice Sonia Sotomayor (the only Hispanic on the court) could barely conceal her disgust with the argument. "You can see it is not selling very well. Why don’t you try to come up with something else?”
In retrospect, Team Obama's reasoning here shouldn't be too surprising. Consistently, his DOJ has sanctioned the most repellant arguments made by the Bushistas. In this case, they are arguing more for consolidation of power in the federal government than against racial injustice. Such an argument conveniently sidesteps opposing a political scapegoating that appeals to the ugliest form of populism.
The good news here is if the Supreme Court sides with Arizona in its decision (which some believe the Supremes were hinting at in the tone of their questions) the battle over 1070 won't be over. As the SJ Mercury notes: "Should the court uphold any part of the law, immigration groups are likely to challenge it based on an argument not before that court Wednesday -- that the law discriminates on the basis of race and ethnic background." An argument, sadly, the Obama Adminstritation lacked the spine or sense of decency to present.
To read the original article: