Monday, September 17, 2012
The Supreme Court & Arizona Immigration
A common theme in news involving the Supreme Court and Obama lawyers is how woefully incompetent Team Obama appears. This may be charitable at best: the Obama DOJ pretty much comes off as arrogant, dismissive of basic constitutional questions and ultimately spineless to take any principled stand even if they believed in any. In short, the DOJ has become a perfect representation of Barack Obama. That was the case in the Obamacare challenge, was the case in the Citizen's United case, and was the case in the recent Supreme Court battle over Arizona's immigration law.
An AP news story from June 25 had the title "High court rejects part of Arizona immigration law." The story gets all the facts right: despite the extreme right-wing tilt of the court, the Supremes overwhelming rejected the reactionary law: "The court struck down these three major provisions: requiring all immigrants to obtain or carry immigration registration papers, making it a state criminal offense for an illegal immigrant to seek work or hold a job and allowing police to arrest suspected illegal immigrants without warrants."
Despite these rulings, one key part of the law was left in place: "that police must check the status of people stopped for various reasons who might appear to be in the U.S. illegally." Prez Obama decried this provision being left intact, declaring in writing: "No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like."
That Obama presented his objection in writing rather than one of his supposedly awesome speeches should tell you something. What was left out in the AP article: the reason didn't reject the "Show me your papers" provision as an in-your-face abuse of civil liberties is because the Obama DOJ never objected the law on this point. In fact, many of the Supreme judges could barely conceal their disgust of the DOJ during arguments over this fact. The reasons seem pretty obvious: the Obama political team felt that sticking up for the rights of Latinos would be an election loser.
The good news: though they didn't overturn the most offensive part of the law, the Court made it pretty clear that they would if anyone could present evidence to the court that the law has or could violate any person's basic constitutional liberties. It's a shame that Team Obama weren't the ones who did it.