Jewish World Review July 13, 2010 / 2 Menachem-Av, 5770
Role Reversal: The Feds vs. Arizona
By Paul Greenberg
The administration's lawsuit against the
For once upon a sad time, namely the bad old days in these Southern latitudes, states systematically denied a large class of their citizens the equal protection of the laws, denying their rights and, when challenged, waving the banner of States' Rights to cover the mistreatment of their own citizens.
The federal government was bound by law and conscience to step into that vacuum of law, and protect the privileges and immunities of all its citizens, to use the language of the Fourteenth Amendment. And it finally did so. The happy result is that the evils of racial segregation enforced by state law, and defended by various and distinguished advocates, is now a thing of the past.
Now the legal positions are reversed. It is the federal government that has long neglected its duty to secure the country's border, and so protect its citizens -- especially in states like
For connoisseurs of irony, a sage observer once noted, politics is a virtual banquet
Of course, the
The flood of intruders crossing that broken border represents a danger to the life, liberty and property of
At this point, the thought might occur to a simple layman unlearned in the law that, just because something is a federal problem, like anything from illegal drugs to kidnapping, doesn't mean it's only a federal problem. States have passed a multitude of their own laws against various crimes. Why not illegal entry?
Does being in this country illegally mean you can't be in any of its states illegally? You'd probably have to be a licensed lawhead to defend a position like that -- it defies common sense -- but there's no shortage of lawyers in
Of all the many crimes that are both federal and state in this system of dual sovereignty, why has the administration chosen to make this one an exclusively federal preserve? Can it be because the other crimes don't have so great a body of voters who'd like to ignore it?
At the moment the administration is bringing its full arsenal of doublespeak to bear against the state -- and people -- of
But can anyone seriously maintain that the federal government has exercised that authority along the no-man's land that is much of the country's southern border? Instead, it has let a vacuum of law and order develop there, and the results have been all too predictable. Is it any wonder
What the feds are really saying is that
It's interesting, and revealing, that not even the
The law actually bars profiling: "A law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state may not consider race, color or national origin...."
No wonder the feds have chosen to make this a case of federal vs. state jurisdiction rather than one involving ethnic discrimination. Because there is no evidence that it does. Instead,
JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.
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