Friday, June 18, 2010

Jan Brewer's phony outrage

The local news is full of Jan Brewer's faux outrage at the Obama administration for daring to challenge the new immigration law, especially the part about Hillary Clinton apparently first spilling the beans during a trip to Ecuador.

This may play well with the Republican base that Brewer is trying to hang onto as she heads into a competitive primary contest but hardly anyone who knows politics is fooled by this. As evidence, just last week Brewer got into a fight with Terry Goddard, who would have to defend the law in his capacity as Attorney General over precisely this matter. So for her to now claim that she is surprised is the height of hypocrisy. Goddard for his part (and keeping in mind that if Brewer survives her primary she would be running against Goddard in the fall) did voluntarily step aside today (giving Brewer what she demanded from him last week) and wisely isn't going to be defending this law.

The immigration bill was certain to be challenged in court from the moment it was signed, not only because it places the state in the position of the Federal Government, but also because one can seriously question the constitutionality of requiring that all citizens (because it is not only non-citizens who will be questioned) carry identification with them in order to avoid possibly being detained as a 'suspected undocumented' immigrant. This seems contrary to the fourth amendment protection against unreasonable searches.

True that if you are driving a vehicle you need a drivers license with you but that is only while you are driving. If you are not driving a vehicle (such as if you are walking down the street, standing on the corner or only a passenger in a vehicle) there is no current requirement for I.D. but the Arizona law in fact if not in letter does now require I.D. (certainly for anyone-- read that Hispanics or people who may be mistaken for Hispanics such as American Indians-- who may be 'suspected' of being an undocumented immigrant.)

Brewer knew very well that this law would certainly be challenged in court, and virtually certainly by the Justice Department, so her expressions of shock are purely contrived. As to the matter of Secretary Clinton first disclosing this in Ecuador, it may have been a slip of the tongue, or it may have been intentional. Either way, official notification will follow when the Justice Department is ready to file their suit. Likely as not they are carefully wording their official court briefs in order to comply with all necessary legal requirements, whereas the Secretary of State, as she is not the one who will be filing the suit, is under no obligation to wait for them to file the official suit.

If she wanted to avoid a lawsuit there was an easy way to do that-- veto the law last month. But Governor Brewer made it clear which side she is on. Fine, but then don't turn around and claim to be shocked and surprised when the inevitable consequences roll around.


sandyh said...

How much will it cost the state to defend this law through the appeal process? Will the conservatives raise taxes to do it?

Eli Blake said...

Of course they won't raise taxes. They will just take it out of the general fund and slash some more. Arizona already has a very high cost of legal bills for the state, counties and cities compared to other states, but the politicians who pass stuff that will be headed to court apparently don't care what that means about where our money is going.