Showing posts with label Arizona. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arizona. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Court Invalidates Most of Arizona Immigrant-Check Law

In  spite of my usual criticism of both Congress and the President, I tend to be deferential to the Supreme Court.  Maybe it’s because it’s in this body that I place my last vestige of hope that our Republic will not entirely transform into the Evil Empire; maybe, on less desperate days, it’s because I understand that fine the points of law on which many decisions turn are not really the broad stroked reported by the mass media.  

 Nonetheless, I was initially feeling dejected when I heard that Arizona’s immigration law (“SB 1070”) was upheld.  The harassment of all racial, ethnic, and linguistic minorities could not proceed with legal blessings.  The media have shown Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer gloating and declaring that enforcement will begin.

But wait.

I then heard that the vote was a unanimous 8-0 vote (with Justice Kagan not participating.)  

Unanimous?!  Even the liberal Justices?  Even Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who once infuriated conservatives by saying,

"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life..."

How could this “wise Latina woman” support a law that places every latino under legal suspicion by their mere existence in Arizona?!

And so, I set aside the media accounts of the ruling and looked closer at what the Court actually said.

The  Court considered four separate sections of SB 1070. 

SB 1070 §3 made it a crime for failure to apply for, or carry, “alien-registration papers.” 

A majority, 6-2,  struck this section down as unconstitutional. It crossed the philosophical divide: conservatives Alito & Roberts, centrist Kennedy, and liberals Breyer, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor all voted to void this section.  No one will have to apply for ‘papers’ and carry them.

SB 1070 §5: made it a crime for illegal immigrants to seek work, apply for work, or perform work. 

A 5-3 majority (Breyer, Ginsburg, Kennedy, Roberts, and Sotomayor) struck down this section as well, because it conflicts with the Federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which makes it illegal for employers to hire or employ unauthorized workers. If Congress wanted to create crimes against employees as well, it would have done so, said the Justices.

SB 1070 §6: permitted police to make a warrantless arrest of a person if there was probable cause to believe the individual committed a public offense making them deportable.  

The same 5-3 majority (Breyer, Ginsburg, Kennedy, Roberts, and Sotomayor) struck down this section as well.

That leaves only one section of the bill that was challenged and upheld:

SB1070 §2B: Requires an officer to make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of a person stopped, detained or arrested if there’s reasonable suspicion that person is in the country illegally. This portion also requires law enforcement to check the immigration status of people arrested and hold them indefinitely until the status is determined.

This section was approved 8-0. 

Keep the following in perspective:

The Court is not saying they agree with or like the law; they are simply issuing a determination as to its constitutionality.

Second, the law only permits the inquiry “…if there’s reasonable suspicion that person is in the country illegally.”

Not if they’re brown.  Not if they speak Spanish.  There must be a reasonable suspicion that they are here illegally.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion, was very clear in warning Arizona by writing that this section, too,  could face future constitutional problems if it results in law-enforcement officers detaining an individual longer than they would have without SB 1070 requirements.

All in all, the Justices threw out the most onerous provisions of the law; the one provision they allowed to stand, they allowed to stand with a stern warning that how Arizona chooses to carry out this provision will determine its fate.

I’m breathing a little easier.


Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Republicans Lose Critical Elections All Night

On ballot issues ranging from statewide elections to union bargaining rights and voter access, Republicans took a beating in all corners of the nation tonight.

Perhaps the most closely watched ballot initiative was in Ohio, where voters rejected “Issue #2,” a Republican-supported initiative that would have severely restricted the rights of unions to pursue collective bargaining agreements. The vote was not even close, as voters in this swing-state rejected Republican Governor John Kasich’s bill by more than a 2:1 margin.

At the same time, voters in Maine have decisively rejected conservatives efforts to eliminate same-day registration for voting by a margin of 60% - 40%.

And in Kentucky, a state that saw a Republican Senate win in a special election just last year, voters elected to give four out of five statewide offices to Democrats. And in New York's Suffolk County (Long Island), where Republicans made the County Executive race a "referendum" on President Obama, the Republican candidate was losing by a surprisingly large margin of 55%-45% with roughly 40% of all precinct reporting. Further south in Virginia, that state elected its first openly gay State Senator, Adam Ebbin.

[Update from the West: Russell Pearce, the Arizona state senator from the Republican-dominated suburbs of Phoenix who wrote Arizona's controversial immigration law lost, was recalled last night 55%-45%. The election was widely seen as a referendum on tough measures against illegal immigrants.]

Nationally, Republicans have waged multi-state campaigns to restrict collective bargaining rights, oppose gay rights, impede voters from accessing the polls, and fomenting anti-immigrant sentiment. In my home state of New Hampshire, the Republican-dominated legislature supported all such measures.

When one considers that off-year elections tend to result in losses for the President’s party….and considering that the lower turnouts associated with these off-year elections almost always benefit Republicans...and considering the continuing economic malaise – these results should send a very clear message to the GOP:

Americans may not be thrilled with how Obama has handled his Presidency so far - in fact, they may be downright unhappy, frustrated, and/or disappointed - but by even greater numbers they completely reject the agenda of the current extremist Republicans.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Tucson aftermath, civility, and freedom...

I don't expect many people to agree with this post...but that's never stopped me before.

Growing up, I remember some of the icons of the news reporting industry: Walter Cronkite. Peter Jennings. Edwin Newman. Ted Koppel. Chet Huntley. David Brinkley. John Chancellor. Roger Mudd. Tom Brokaw.

These reporters, though they they had their personal opinions, attempted to report news - information - with objective facts. Though often accused of being 'slanted' one way or another, they saw their jobs as providing information, and not entertaining or outright campaigning.

Today (with notable exceptions such as George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts), Americans don't seem to want to hear 'news.' We prefer to hear partisan, angry finger-pointing...and we are entertained by this. On the right, Fox News is stacked with talking heads who use anger and alienation to attract viewership. Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, and Ann Coulter never let an opportunity pass to offer their opinion on the news without a good dose of outrage.

But the left is not immune from this. Keith Olberman is just as prone to name-calling and passionate rants as O'Reilly, and Rachel Maddow drips with disdain and self-righteous superiority as she discusses the right. Bloggers (and their reader's comments) on both the left and right regularly say things in print they would hesitate to say in a face-to-face situation.

The Internet has insulated us from the need for civility.

We have decided that we would rather be entertained by comedians posing as newscasters or have our opinions and passions "confirmed," than actually be informed by news and information.

In the wake of the Tucson shootings, many blogs and commentators have retreated into the Blame Game. Blogs on the left have ripped the right for the anger and hate that has emanated from some right-wing sites. But in so doing, they are blind to the fact that they themselves are engaged in the same thing: Divide, Blame, Marginalize, Disdain. Define "The Other Side" as evil, and affix the blame on THEM.

A child who taunts a dog every day is not blameless when one day the gate is open and the dog chooses to bite in return.

Partisan Division is a Two-Way Street, and BOTH the Left and the Right are equally guilty. The problem with the lack of civil discourse is not the "Other Side"....The problem is the Man in the Mirror.

But equally as troubling as this irresponsible, childish move away from "real news" are the recent calls to 'clamp down' on basic freedoms as a result of the shootings. Stricter Gun Control. Restrictions on "Hate Speech." Pima County, Arizona Sheriff Clarence Dupnik was right when he recognized the atmosphere of hate and division that the media has engendered...but the suggestion that free speech needs to be monitored or prohibited runs counter to the most basic of American freedoms.

The efforts to 'control' Americans have a parallel in "Star Wars": Senator Palpatine, speaking to the Senate, convinces them that the Republic is under attack...and to give him extraordinary powers to answer that threat. The eventual result, of course, is that Senator Palpatine becomes Emperor Palpatine, and the Republic becomes the Evil Empire...leading to the Rebellion.

The United States has always been a disorderly, raucous, free-wheeling nation. To quote Ben Franklin from the musical 1776, "we're less refined, more vulgar" than Europe. "We require a new nation."

It was a bad enough blow to liberty when the Patriot Act was enacted. Current calls to restrict speech and firearms ownership to preserve order at the expense of liberty is the slippery slope that moves us towards The Evil Empire. And once the Evil Empire is in place, the 'rebellion' will grow.

I fear we may be in a no-win situation here:

Calls grow for greater security.

Freedoms are reduced.

That encourages black-market and 'under the radar' activities. And it encourages Defiance.

Defiance speaks the language of Violence and Resistance.

Calls for Resistance increase the calls for greater security.

Those desiring Security and those desiring Liberty demonize the other side, and draw hard and fast lines.

The first American Civil War has clear geographic lines. I'm not sure how the next lines will be drawn.

I *do* know that I am tired of Republican AND Democratic partisanship, and the rhetoric of BOTH the left and the right...and am destined, I think, to wander an in an Independent wilderness for the rest of my life while my country decides who and what it wants to be, and how its going to get there...Ive had it with both "sides."