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“Not So Fast Missy”: How Jan Brewer and Many Others Got The Supreme Court’s Immigration Ruling Wrong

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer sounded triumphant Monday as she declared that the “heart” of SB 1070, Arizona’s harsh anti-illegal immigration law, had been “upheld” by the Supreme Court.

“The heart of Senate Bill 1070 has been proven to be constitutional. Arizona’s and every other state’s inherent authority to protect and defend its people has been upheld.”

There’s just one problem: The high court did not find any provision of Arizona’s law to be constitutional—it did not “uphold” any part of the law. The distinction here is a technical legal one, and plenty of reporters and media outlets got it wrong. (My first tweet about the ruling was wrong. Politico, the Los Angeles Times*, and PBS’ Newshour also initially misreported the ruling.) Other supporters of the law, including Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (who is a lawyer) also referred to part of the law being “upheld.”

Here’s what the Supreme Court actually did on Monday. The justices decided that the lower court that prevented SB 1070 from taking effect was mostly correct—because most of the law’s provisions were likely unconstitutional. The Supreme Court declined to block the “papers, please” provision of the law—which Brewer refers to as its “heart”—that requires local authorities to check the immigration status of anyone they arrest. But the high court did not find the controversial provision constitutional, and so it was not “upheld.” Instead, the high court deferred judgment on the matter. Saying that part of the law was “upheld” incorrectly implies that the court decided the “papers, please” provision was constitutional. The justices were actually decidedly agnostic on that point.

“The majority said it didn’t know enough about how the law would work in practice to rule decisively. Because the law has never gone into effect, it just wasn’t clear whether the law would conflict with federal policy.” says Adam Winkler, a professor at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law who wrote a column for the Daily Beast noting that many media outlets got the distinction wrong. “The court said to Arizona there’s a right way and a wrong way to apply this law and we’re watching you.”

Although it’s anyone’s guess how the court might ultimately rule on the “papers, please” provision, Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion gives very specific guidance on how that part of the law should be enforced. That suggests that in the future, the court could very well find the provision unconstitutional—meaning that Brewer’s celebration was beyond premature.

“They absolutely left open the possiblity of future challenges,” says Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel at the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center. “We achieved victory on three out of the four provisions [Monday], and I think it’s going to be a delayed victory on the fourth.”

 

By: Adam Serwer, Mother Jones, June 26, 2012

June 27, 2012 Posted by | U. S. Supreme Court | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Arizona Senate President Pearce Has Been Recalled

Mark down July 8th as a day history was made in Arizona.

In a swift affirmation of Arizona’s fast-growing and powerful new political movement, Secretary of State Ken Bennett notified Gov. Jan Brewer that the once seemingly invincible architect of the state’s controversial SB 1070 “papers please” immigration law has officially been recalled. Bennett confirmed that the recall petitions delivered by the Citizens for a Better Arizona “exceeds the minimum signatures required by the Arizona Constitution.”

“Let’s make no mistake about it,” said Randy Parraz, co-founder of the Citizens for a Better Arizona. “Russell Pearce has been recalled.”

According to Bennett’s statement, Pearce has two options: Resign from office within five business days, or become a candidate in the recall election. Either way, Pearce becomes the first state senate president in recent memory to be recalled in the nation.

“No one expected this or picked up on this political earthquake,” said Parraz, one of the main organizers behind the extraordinary grassroots campaign, which electrified a bipartisan effort in Pearce’s Mesa district. Parraz credited a “dramatic shift” over the past six months due to Pearce’s often extremist leadership in state senate.

“We had people pouring into the office,” Parraz said, citing the role of Republicans, Democrats and Independents in the door-to-door canvassing initiative, “and they told us: Russell Pearce is too extreme for our district and state.”

Beyond his self-proclaimed key role in the state’s notorious SB 1070 law, Pearce oversaw a near circus-level of extremist and reckless legislation in the Arizona senate this past spring, including draconian cuts in education and health care. Mired in various scandals, Pearce infamously accused President Obama of “waging jihad” on America. And last month Fox News Phoenix explored his widely denounced connections to neo-Nazi hate groups. In a recent interview with FOX News, Pearce dismissed the recall effort as the work of “far left anarchists.”

In truth, the Secretary of State’s office confirmed that an additional one third of the necessary signatures had been properly collected and verified.

Within 15 days, Gov. Brewer must set the date for the recall election, which presumably will take place in November.

And while no single candidate has emerged to claim the frontrunner’s position, one thing is clear: The Citizens for a Better Arizona has galvanized a new era in Arizona politics.

 

By: Jeff Biggers, CommonDreams.org, July 11, 2011

July 12, 2011 Posted by | Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, GOP, Government, Ideologues, Ideology, Immigration, Lawmakers, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, State Legislatures, States | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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