Patterico's Pontifications


News Reports: Supreme Court Looks Ready to Uphold Most of Arizona Immigration Law

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:31 pm

Adam Liptak at the New York Times: Justices Seem Sympathetic to Central Part of Arizona Law.

Justices across the ideological spectrum appeared inclined on Wednesday to uphold a controversial part of Arizona’s aggressive 2010 immigration law, based on their questions at a Supreme Court argument.

“You can see it’s not selling very well,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a member of the court’s liberal wing and its first Hispanic justice, told Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., referring to a central part of his argument against the measure.

David Savage at the L.A. Times:

The Supreme Court justices, hearing arguments Wednesday over Arizona’s tough immigration law, suggested they were inclined to uphold parts of the state’s law but may block other parts.

The Obama administration lawyer who wanted the entire law struck down ran into skeptical questions from most of the justices, who said they saw no problem with requiring police officers to check the immigration status of people who are stopped.

But the justices also said they were troubled by parts of the Arizona law that made it a state crime for illegal immigrants to not carry documents or seek work. The stop-and-arrest provision has been the most contested part of the law.

Inside, court members voiced skepticism about parts of the Arizona law, including penalties on illegal immigrants who seek jobs. Still, the justices made clear they see states as having a role to play in addressing the presence of what the government has estimated is 11.5 million unauthorized aliens in the U.S.

“What does sovereignty mean if it does not include the ability to defend your borders?” Justice Antonin Scalia said during the 80-minute session, which ran 20 minutes beyond its scheduled time.

The transcript of the oral argument is here. I have not had time to read it.

Report: Newt Out

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:54 am

It’s not official yet, but should be soon:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is expected to suspend his presidential campaign within the next week, according to a Republican operative familiar on the decision.

H/t Aaron Worthing.

Not too earth-shattering, but nice to see we can start fully directing our resources to attacking Obama.

Supreme Court Hears Arizona Immigration Law Case

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:39 am

The Supreme Court today hears arguments regarding Arizona’s immigration law. It is a rematch of the ObamaCare arguments, with whiz kid Paul Clement once again facing off against “chokin’ Don” Verrilli. The issue, as I see it, is whether Arizona is authorized to empower local law enforcement to carry out federal immigration law, or whether President Obama gets to say: hey, I am the decider of what laws we’re going to enforce around here.

Here are a couple of passages from the United States’s brief (.pdf):

Section 6, therefore, does not serve any state-specific crime-prevention goal; it instead works in tandem with Section 2 to allow second-guessing of federal enforcement priorities. For the same reasons as Section 2, that effort is preempted: while cooperative law-enforcement efforts are both permissible and welcome, arrests based on state officials’ view of who should be removed are not “cooperat[ion].”

That’s on page 28, and you should read “federal law enforcement priorities” as code for “Obama’s decision not to fully enforce immigration laws.” He is the president, dammit, and he doesn’t want his nullification of Congress’s laws to be nullified. More, at page 26:

Federal law and policy do not adopt such a one-size-fits-all approach to enforcement. The officials who enforce the Nation’s immigration laws require significant discretion in order to balance numerous goals and purposes relevant under the INA, including law enforcement priorities, foreign-relations considerations, and humanitarian concerns. Congress has expressly directed the Secretary to prioritize “the identification and removal of aliens convicted of a crime by the severity of that crime.” DHS Appropriations Act, Tit. II, 123 Stat. 2149. Among criminal aliens, DHS’s highest enforcement priorities are aliens who threaten public safety or national security and members of criminal gangs that smuggle aliens and contraband. DHS also gives priority to removing repeat border crossers, recent entrants, aliens who have previously been removed, and aliens who have disregarded an immigration court’s final order of removal. C.A. Supp. E.R. 109-111. Federal officials exercise countervailing discretion in some instances; in some individual cases, humanitarian considerations may call for deferring removal of an otherwise removable alien.

You should read this passage as code for: Obama does not want to fully enforce federal immigration law, because it might upset Mexico (foreign-relations considerations) or piss off Latino voters (humanitarian concerns).

Now, the argument about “priorities” does not carry much weight when the states are offering their resources to effect more enforcement. For example, if I have four goals and prioritize goal #1, I can’t really complain when someone says: “I’ll help you, but I want to focus more on goals 2-4.”

That is, unless goals 2-4 aren’t really goals of mine, and I am paying lip service to them — or there is some compelling reason (beyond insufficient resources) that I shouldn’t address goals 2-4 before goal 1.

President Obama isn’t the only player in this game. Congress has passed laws and expects them to be enforced. Obama surely has discretion, but that discretion should not extend to non-enforcement. And that is what he seems to seek: the ability not to enforce federal immigration law.

If the Supreme Court sees the issue the way I do, it may be another 5-3 split the way it was last time an Arizona immigration law went to the High Court. (Justice Kagan is recusing herself from this one.) Today’s arguments may send a clear signal. It should be interesting.

How I learned to stop worrying about “manufactured” outrage

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 7:03 am

[Posted by Karl]

Or perhaps it is how I learned to start being concerned about “manufactured” outrage.  It depends on how you look at it, I suppose.

After all, when I read generally conservative columnists like Matt K. Lewis or John Podhoretz disdaining “manufactured” outrages from different angles — even when the GOP may enjoy some temporary advantage from the kerfuffles of the current campaign —  I am not entirely unsympathetic.  Indeed, I am already on record arguing that institutionally, the GOP should not engage in these controversies, but note that Democrats have been generating them to distract from the anemic economy and the Obama administration’s record on the issues Americans care most about.  I think that’s pretty close to Podhoretz’s position, if I’m reading him correctly.

On the other hand, I recognize at least two problems inherent in the position of disdaining these distractions entirely.

First, there is at least a whiff of condescension involved.  I do not think those upset by the Obama administration’s plans to infringe on religious liberty as part of Obamacare are just pretending to be upset.  I doubt the progressives who seem so passionate about increasing access to abortion and birth control are playing make-believe (beyond the notion that such access is “free” in terms of money or overall liberty).  People who denounce a Democratic honcho who let her mask slip to suggest stay-at-home mothers don’t really work are not entirely engaged in hype.  I may think economic growth, exploding public debt and the entirety of Obamacare to be bigger issues, but it would be elitist to deny there are real issues at the heart of most of the supposed sideshows of the campaign so far.

This is even arguably true about this campaign’s dog tales.  Admittedly, whether Mitt Romney once transported his family dog atop his car or Obama ate dog as a child in Indonesia (with little apparent regret as an adult) has no direct policy consequences.  On the other hand, Podhoretz admits Democrats became interested in the Romney dog tale because of the effect it had on Mitt’s favorability in focus groups.  Moreover, the intersection of moral psychology and politics is a hot topic these past months.  And in this regard, it is notable that when asked whether it would be wrong for a family to eat the family dog after it was killed by a car, it turns out that the only group that thinks it alright is college-educated liberals.  The swingiest of swing voters are almost by definition not particularly moved by policy arguments, or they would be partisans.  America is still a free enough country that we get to tell this key bloc that dog tales are unimportant, but they don’t have to listen.

The second major problem with ignoring campaign sideshows is Utopianism.  As Podhoretz notes, opposition research is democratized in the Internet Age.  And Lewis concedes that ceding the field to Democrats on these issues may be necessary to win elections (and thereby address those “real” issues).  There is nothing in American history, let alone the history of the Internet Age, suggesting that a handful of pundits — or even concerted efforts by candidates and their teams — are going to stop these controversies.  To rhetorically shovel against this tide is in one sense noble, but also unconservative to the degree that it pretends human nature is so easily molded by the political realm.

In short, while I still think it helps the GOP to use these kerfuffles to say Democrats want to avoid discussing the economy and Obama’s record, there is probably a role for those who want neutralize or reverse their effect.


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