Arizona: Enemy of Federalism

Related Post Roulette

13 Responses

  1. I guess I’ll respond to this with an Albert Einstein quote (he was smart.):

    “Nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase in crime in this country is closely connected with this.”Report

  2. kris says:

    Reasonable suspicion, in my book at any rate, would include anyone caught for a driving offence that could not produce a license/insurance.

    Further, my understanding of the AZ law is the AZ cop would had the suspect over to ICE. If ICE, or indeed any Federal Agency, does not want to do their jobs as a matter of policy, you are correct; that is a matter for them, and our recourse is at the ballot box.

    States do have the power to make their own laws, and those laws will be enforceable so long as they do not seek to encumber due process rights.

    I’m struggling to see how the AZ law encumbers anyone’s due process rights.Report

    • Dave in reply to kris says:


      I don’t think the due process or Fourth Amendment issues are the main problems with the law, rather the fact that the AZ law interfere’s with the federal government’s ability to allocate resources towards illegal immigration on its own.

      Even if one argues that the feds are doing a poor job enforcing its own laws, the State of Arizona does not have the power to pass its own laws in an attempt to make the federal government do a better job. That’s my general view of SB 1070.Report

    • @kris, I occasionally serve as a pro tem judge in traffic court. Every time I do it, I have between a dozen to twenty cases of people, presumptively citizens, who have been given tickets for driving without valid driver’s licenses on them. And fully half of my daily traffic calendar — fifty or more defendants a day — don’t have insurance. (Bear in mind that these are the people who show up in court to take care of their tickets, not the ones who paid their tickets by mail or over the net. I don’t claim to know how that filter might skew the sample.)

      Am I supposed to suspect that all of these people are not citizens? Or that they naturalized and/or got green cards between the time they got their tickets and the time they showed up in court?

      The jurisdiction in which my court sits services a community of about 400,000 people. That’s far too many citizens driving without identification or insurance, in my mind, to have the lack of those things give rise to a suspicion of anything other than the offenses of driving without identification and/or insurance.

      I’d concede that lack of identification could contribute to formation of a “reasonable suspicion”, as one of multiple objective, articulable factors that could be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. But by itself, there are a substantial number of people who are pretty obviously citizens driving around without licenses or insurance — substantial enough that I can’t call a suspicion of alien status based on this evidence alone a “reasonable” suspicion.Report

  3. Jonathan says:

    Similar to kris’s comment above, how is the Arizona law changing federal priorities? Is it because turning the suspects over to ICE (or whomever) creates additional work for federal workers/agents (and, thus, shifting demands on resources)?

    Granted, as a Canadian, much of my understanding of American law enforcement comes from Chris Noth and Michael Moriarty, but don’t state law enforcement officers regularly turn over people they’ve arrested/detained/harassed to the feds if it turns out the person may have (or has) committed a federal crime?

    I still think the AZ law is abhorrent, but I’m just not sure about this particular challenge.Report

    • Mark Thompson in reply to Jonathan says:

      “Is it because turning the suspects over to ICE (or whomever) creates additional work for federal workers/agents (and, thus, shifting demands on resources)?”

      As I understand this issue, this is in effect the argument. Imagine a formal rule in the CFR saying that ICE shall dedicate no more than x amount of its resources to enforcement and deportation proceedings. The Arizona law, in both effect and intent, would undermine this rule, forcing ICE to dedicate X + Y of its resources to enforcement and deportation proceedings.Report

  4. Jaybird says:

    “Therefore, Arizona’s law challenges the President’s ability to decide to focus resources in one area and not in another; it attempts to force the President’s hand at allocating resources among various kinds of Federal law enforcement activities.”

    From what I’ve seen, the thing they’re shooting for is not forcing the President’s hand (they know that they don’t have a snowball’s chance to do that) but to force the hands of the folks looking to visit… make them say “maybe California, New Mexico, or Texas…” and get them to engage in some prior restraint.Report

  5. Kris says:

    “the AZ law interfere’s with the federal government’s ability to allocate resources towards illegal immigration on its own”.

    Hardly, when the head of ICE has already indicated they won’t be picking up any AZ referrals.

    My further understanding is that the principle has already been upheld at circuit court level in previous cases.

    Obama’s on a hiding to nothing – he’s arguing the Feds should not be compelled by the states to enforce the law. The fact is, as the head of ICE demonstrates, the states can’t compel the Executive to do anything.

    To turn it on its head – the Executive doesn’t have the power to tell the states what it can and cannot legislate unless it’s a due process or border control function.

    Handing people over to the Executive is not ursurping Executive power deal with immigration issues becasue the Feds retain power to deal or not.Report

  6. Ryan Davidson says:

    Sorry, just not buying it. The President doesn’t have to do jack about this. Nor does anyone in the federal bureaucracy. They can ignore every single referral from the Arizona state government as a matter of course, assuming they don’t already do that almost everywhere.

    What we’ve got here is an American President saying that he shouldn’t have to enforce the law of the land. Any way you slice it, that looks bad.Report

    • gregiank in reply to Ryan Davidson says:

      @Ryan Davidson, I’m not sure what you mean. Deportations are up in the last year. The law is being enforced, just not in a way that anybody is happy with. That is mostly because there are sharp disagreements over what the law should be.Report

  7. Barry says:

    Read section G, and ponder just why that section should be in there.Report