The Arizona Law
Several months ago, Arizona passed an anti-immigration law which would give law enforcement officers the right to determine the legal status of motorists. The measure, which will be become law on July 29, has sparked heated debate among many different groups. According to Randal C. Archibold and Mark Landler of the New York Times, while most Americans favor the bill, the majority of Hispanics, both in America and abroad, oppose the measure. And, while the Democrats have voiced their disapproval, most conservative groups, such as the Tea Party, strongly support the law.
Obama Administration To Take A Rare Step
In an interview on June 8, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton told a reporter in Ecuador that the federal government plans to sue Arizona over its law. Click here to see the interview on cbsnews.com. Eventually, word of this interview got to the U.S., and anonymous sources within the Obama administration have confirmed Clinton’s statement.
While the federal government has the legal authority to sue a state over one of its laws, it is certainly a step that is out of the ordinary. The normal course of action that is taken concerning controversial state laws is for a citizen of the state to file a lawsuit, which could theoretically be appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court, such as the famous Roe v. Wade abortion case. Though rare, there are cases when the federal government has sued states over their laws. According to Nicole Gaouette of the Los Angeles Times, the Bush administration sued the state of Illinois in 2007 for inhibiting a federal system to check the citizenship status of its workers. But, it is a rare step indeed.
My opposition to this potential step by the Obama administration is based solely on the dangerous precedent it would set in the federal government too often meddling in the affairs of its states. I have no problem with anyone (with the exception of criminals) from around the world wanting to live and even become citizens of the greatest country in the world.
I live in the New Orleans area, and our entire region was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. While our city has a long way to go, the pace of its recovery would never have been this fast if not for the assistance of laborers who may not have been American citizens.
But, if the Arizona law is so dangerous, let it be challenged in the conventional manner. While our forefathers set up our judicial system to give the federal government the right to sue states, the preponderance of the Constitution and the providential spirit in which it is written gives the states an overwhelming degree of latitude in enacting its own laws. And, it should stay that way as much as possible.
Randal C. Archibold and Mark Landler, “Justice Dept. Will Fight Arizona on Immigration”, NY Times