Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Big (and Maybe Bad) Week for SCOTUS

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) announced its immigration decision on Monday, pretty much gutting the Arizona law of the ability of charging those that they discover to be in country illegally and enforcing 'their' and the nation's border with Mexico.  Incongruously, it did so while simultaneously allowing State and Local law officials to check for proper immigration status while arresting people on other non-related charges.  The federal government immediately followed that announcement with one of its own, basically telling AZ that they (or anyone else) catching someone who's in the country illegally and not a wanted felon is not going find the Feds coming to get them or do anything about it.  

Now bank robbery is a federal and not a state crime, so one cannot but wonder if under SCOTUS legal logic, local police shouldn't bother much about it either.  (Besides, with the true value of money continuing to decline, the line between felony and misdemeanor bank theft is increasingly fuzzy.)  Kidnapping is also mostly escalated to a federal crime, so this may provide another rather gray area for local law enforcement's relationship with its federal brethren.  For those of you who capitalize both United and States when writing it, this can be read as nothing less than casting aside the Tenth Amendment, which should probably now read:

"Those powers not delegated to the United States (and of no real interest to them) nor prohibited by it to the States (or by Executive order, federal regulation, or the whim of the resident in the White House or his minions in Homeland Security or the DOJ) , are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people (until such time as the federal government shall take notice of them and decide otherwise)."

It's been a long time since State sovereignty has been dealt such a crushing blow, with the courts telling States in effect not to attempt to enforce federal laws created for their protection which were passed by both Houses of Congress and signed by the President (even if the Federal law enforcement  doesn't) and those Feds thumbing their noses and telling States "Nyah, Nyah, Nyah".  

Now I know that the President is in full campaign mode these days, and that perhaps making up percentage points in Hispanic districts might bolster the support that he's apparently lost from other groups in recent months.  I find it difficult to understand however that such a savvy campaigner as the President doesn't remember that Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California have about 104 electoral votes and might not be happy to see their States remain open battlegrounds (and not just for votes)

Now coming from Chicago, it's possible that the President has likewise forgotten that dead people (which the DOJ is simultaneously attempting to block being removed from voter rolls in Florida) and those here illegally are not allowed to vote (at least in theory); and so cannot help him, except perhaps with improperly documented campaign contributions. (Anybody checked lately to see what La Raza has kicked into the coffers?)


SCOTUS will likewise be releasing its decision on the Patients Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act on Thursday this week, with those on both sides of the issue salivating over the potential of demonizing a 'political court' and their political opposition.  While this may be a harder case to make for the federal government after getting their way in Arizona and regardless of the decision; the repercussions of this yet-to-be-released decision will begin and not end the process of what will come later.   No matter which way the decision falls, the fight will go on.  Few if any are talking about the fact that what has become known as Obamacare has a couple of provisions worth keeping if it's struck down, or a few that demand dismantling if it's retained.

That's the damn problem with these omnibus bills like PPAHA however.  Political parties get so wrapped up in having scored 'the big win' that they too forget the impact of their actions.  Bills with thousands of pages will never be fully read or understood until long after they've been signed into law.  By the time SCOTUS gets around to them (if they ever do), they have become like a diagnosed but untreated cancer, and have infected so much around them that their damage can never truly be reversed. 

Unfortunately, many of the same positive results of this unfortunate law could have been achieved if they had been sought through reform legislation specifically designed to address the most egregious issues only; and it's likely that they might have been accomplished with bi-partisan support.  That wouldn't have achieved the 'in your face' political victory for whichever political party is in power over their opponents however.  Besides, as they tell themselves by way of disingenuous apology, it's OK to throw all this shit onto the wall and see what eventually sticks.  After all, there's always SCOTUS to sort it all out. 

I don't know about you, but that kind of thinking is not only cowardly and a disgrace to the oath of office that each legislator took upon election, but is a shirking of their responsibilities on a scale that can only be responded to by chasing them out of office at the first available opportunity.

While we're at it ....  

Call me cynical, but it also seems almost cowardly of the nine Justices, all of whom sit with a lifetime appointment, to release such monumental decisions (decisions whose legal precedent will impact generations to come) only days before skulking out of town for their summer break.  I'm not saying that these decisions would likely have been more palatable if they had not come out until August or September, but I might have felt better about the Supreme Robes if I knew that they were sweating them out (literally and figuratively) in the heat and humidity of a Washington DC summer.  Considering the pain that's being handed out by this court of last resorts, I for one would feel better if I knew that they had suffered over the conclusions that they've come to.

Yes it's a big week indeed for the Supreme Court of the United States.  How bad a one it is for the citizens of this nation, we have yet to understand.


Roland Hansen said...

Yes it's a big week indeed for the Supreme Court of the United States. How bad a one it is for the citizens of this nation, we have yet to understand.
--- I am reminded of the words "We The People" AND of Article III Section 2 of the United States Constitution.

The SCOTUS decision of which you have expressed displeasure and with which you disagree has upheld and reinforced Article VI, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution.

Timothy W Higgins said...


I will not try and make the case that the AZ law did not assert supremacy or dispute federal immigration law, but instead reinforced it; as it's apparent that the Court took this into consideration and in part rejected it.

While the Court did as you say, reinforce Article VI; I would add that they did so in the perfect world of legal theory, something they are bound to do. The political reality however is a federal government (regardless of the party in power) that selectively enforces the laws that Congress passes.

Such being the case, there is apparently little concern with enforcing Article VI while constantly ignoring the Tenth Amendment.

Perhaps there will be more uproar if the next President is Republican, and as Charles Krauthammer suggested in his latest piece, decides to have the IRS stop collecting Capital Gains Tax.