Just twelve hours before a new immigration act in Arizona was set to take effect, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton, appointed by Bill Clinton, issued a temporary injunction against the most significant portions of the law.
The teeth of the law includes provisions that make it mandatory for immigrants to carry their papers and identification at all times and require police officers to check the status of immigrants while enforcing other laws. Illegals, or so-called “undocumented workers,” are also prohibited from soliciting employment under the new law.
Judge Bolton halted enforcement of these provisions until the courts have resolved the legal issues surrounding the law. Her ruling, in effect, has rendered the act of no force.
But the ball is now in the court of Governor Jan Brewer and the State of Arizona. Will they submit to the dictates of a politically-appointed judge? Or will they defy the courts and continue to enforce their own laws within their own borders?
Judge Bolton is overseeing seven lawsuits that have been filed against the law, including one by Attorney General Eric Holder. The State of Arizona had filed a motion with the federal court to have the lawsuits thrown out, but now the judge has sided with the federal government.
Should we be surprised?
In recent decades, the states have chosen to fight the federal government in federal court. This is the wrong move and an unwinnable situation. It is not a proper check on the power of Washington. The federal government has proven time and again that it will never check itself.
Furthermore, when suits are filed by the states against Washington, the feds are allowed to preside over its own case. This would be like Gulf Coast fishermen suing British Petroleum for damages, while BP’s CEO acts as the final arbitrator. We all know how that one would come out.
And as a result, Washington has grown all-powerful. As Thomas Jefferson wrote to a friend in 1825, “It is but too evident, that the three ruling branches…are in combination to strip their colleagues, the State authorities, of the powers reserved by them, and to exercise themselves all functions foreign and domestic.” How right he was!
The federal government from day one has bristled with hostility anytime a state encroaches on its constitutional authority, as it alleges with the Arizona law, but Washington has encroached on the rights of the states almost since the inception of the Constitution itself, for which it has shown little remorse.
“By enforcing this statute,” Judge Bolton wrote in her ruling, “Arizona would impose a ‘distinct, unusual and extraordinary’ burden on legal resident aliens that only the federal government has the authority to impose.”
But Washington has not imposed its authority in enforcing U.S. immigration law, and Arizona is living in a nightmare as a result. Phoenix is now the kidnapping capital of the nation, and the crime and violence on the border is horrendous. The federal government has failed miserably in securing the border but now is preventing a sovereign state from acting in its own best interest to protect its citizens.
Arizona should defy this ruling and go ahead with the enforcement of its law, which simply codifies existing federal law.
Governor Brewer certainly has some fight in her. “This fight is far from over,” she said after the ruling. “In fact, it is just the beginning, and at the end of what is certain to be a long legal struggle, Arizona will prevail in its right to protect our citizens.”
“Courts have no law enforcement powers; that is the prerogative of the executive alone,” wrote Andrew Jackson. But rather than vow to appeal the decision, Governor Brewer should take a page from Old Hickory and announce that Judge Bolton has made her decision, now let her enforce it! Arizona is moving forward!