Friday, April 30, 2010

Smartest Republican of the Day: Connie Mack

We don't hand out an SRD all that often -- I mean, it's not like there are all that many candidates on any given day -- but let's give some credit today to Rep. Connie Mack of Florida:

Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) ripped into the new Arizona immigration law today, comparing it to Nazi Germany.

"This law of 'frontier justice' – where law enforcement officials are required to stop anyone based on 'reasonable suspicion' that they may be in the country illegally – is reminiscent of a time during World War II when the Gestapo in Germany stopped people on the street and asked for their papers without probable cause," Mack said in a statement.

"This is not the America I grew up in and believe in, and it’s not the America I want my children to grow up in," he added.

Very well put. And so un-Republican of him (which makes him our SRD).

Yes, other Republicans have spoken out, if far more mildly, against the Arizona law. As I blogged the other day, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Karl Rove, three fairly high-profile Republicans, all have problems with it. But the overwhelming reaction among Republicans and conservatives, including Bill Kristol and George Will, is full and enthusiastic support for it.

Suffice it to say that Mack's statement is a breath of fresh air, a defence of freedom against fascism, and just the sort of responsible, intelligent comment one finds so rarely these days in the GOP.

(Of course, Mack may have had an ulterior motive. He needs the Hispanic vote if he wants to win state-wide office in Florida, and this is a good way to appeal to Hispanics. But I suspect that he is nonetheless sincere in his criticism of the Arizona law, as it generally fits in with his opposition to Latin American dictators like Hugo Chavez. Freedom is freedom, after all, here or there.)

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  • Legal Issues

    April 30, 2010

    Last Friday, Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona signed a law -- SB 1070 -- that prohibits the harboring of illegal aliens and makes it a state crime for an alien to commit certain federal immigration crimes. It also requires police officers who, in the course of a traffic stop or other law-enforcement action, come to a "reasonable suspicion" that a person is an illegal alien verify the person's immigration status with the federal government.

    Predictably, groups that favor relaxed enforcement of immigration laws insist the law is unconstitutional. However, the arguments we've heard against it either misrepresent its text or are otherwise inaccurate, says Kris W. Kobach, a law professor at the University of Missouri at Kansas City and Attorney General John Ashcroft's chief adviser on immigration law and border security from 2001 to 2003.

    It is unfair to demand that aliens carry their documents with them:

    * It is true that the Arizona law makes it a misdemeanor for an alien to fail to carry certain documents, but since 1940, it has been a federal crime for aliens to fail to keep such registration documents with them; the Arizona law simply adds a state penalty to what was already a federal crime.
    * Moreover, as anyone who has traveled abroad knows, other nations have similar documentation requirements.

    "Reasonable suspicion" is a meaningless term that will permit police misconduct:

    * Over the past four decades, federal courts have issued hundreds of opinions defining those two words.
    * The Arizona law didn't invent the concept: Precedents list the factors that can contribute to reasonable suspicion; when several are combined, the "totality of circumstances" that results may create reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed.

    The law will allow police to engage in racial profiling:

    * Section 2 provides that a law enforcement official "may not solely consider race, color or national origin" in making any stops or determining immigration status; in addition, all normal Fourth Amendment protections against profiling will continue to apply.
    * In fact, the Arizona law actually reduces the likelihood of race-based harassment by compelling police officers to contact the federal government as soon as is practicable when they suspect a person is an illegal alien, as opposed to letting them make arrests on their own assessment.

    Source: Kris W. Kobach, "Why Arizona Drew a Line," New York Times, April 29, 2010.

    For text:

    By Blogger Jerry, at 10:17 AM  

  • Dicto Simpliciter

    It's not the aliens, legal or illegal, objecting to carrying papers, it's those who will be mistaken for aliens and therefore need to carry birth certificates as though they were second class citizens who rightly and angrily object.

    In the very least case, being stopped and asked for papers is a humiliation that will enable bad cops to annoy citizens without having to arrest them and will be used to sniff for contraband and to find other things while the citizen has to sit there, perhaps in front of his family and try not to piss off one of Arpaio's cops who is looking for an excuse.

    Back in the 60's when my hair was long, I got quite accustomed to being stopped by police who considered it to be probable cause to poke around in my car and open each and every Kodak film can to be sure there was Kodak film in them. Lots of fun when you're trying to get somewhere on time - like to your job or a class or to pick up your kid after school. Lots of fun when suburban cops don't want "hippies" in their town.

    Think it's all going to go smoothly? Think the government never screws up, cops are all saints? Forgive me for grinning here.

    "Reasonable suspicion" is a way of restating "probable cause" and you must know offenses against that provision have been fought over for a long time and protection against government abuse has been weakened severely on one pretext or another. There will be harassment and harassment lawsuits and for that and other reasons some Sheriffs are refusing to enforce this law.

    I'm sure the AZ courts will soon grind to a halt since every citizen of whom papers are demanded will surely demand satisfaction and every racist son of a bitch will exercise his new right to sue the State for not profiling enough. I can speculate that the overall cost to the taxpayer will exceed any benefit to the dish washing and fruit picking citizenry, but true or not, the real comedy is to watch the Arizona Rattlesnake shed it's "smaller less intrusive government" skin and slither away rattling for a police state.

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 10:45 AM  

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