Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Just about everybody is wrong about SB1070

SO WHATEVER happened to the Age of Reason? It would help, for example, if folks actually read the Supreme Court's SB1070 opinion -- you know, BEFORE rendering an opinion about it. But we're on deadline, the press said. So in its best rendition of yellow journalism yet, it simply declared that both sides had won. SB1070 proponents say they scored an EPIC victory. They boast that the heart of the law -- the right to question suspected illegal aliens if held for unrelated infractions (like speeding) -- has been ruled constitutional. Hypothetically, Arizona can finally enforce its "papers please" law. But the average cop doesn't speak hypothetical. Neither does the federal government. And neither is much interested in prosecuting (or stemming the "tide" of) housemaids and gardeners. So catch-and-release is what law enforcement will amount to. The actual bad guys -- drug dealers, pimps and gunrunners -- don't exceed the I-10 speed limit and keep to the shadows. SB1070 opponents are dancing in the end zone, too. They say the law has been gutted and rendered meaningless. They're not wrong (3 of the 4 provisions were tossed out by the Supremes). But the ruling still leaves the door open for racial profiling and other abuses by overzealous enforcers. SCOTUS got it wrong, too. It rationalized Arizona's right to go all Gestapo on brown people by opining that there's no evidence states will abuse this power. Yes, and hope springs eternal. "Innocent until proven guilty" is a fine ideal. But is it wise jurisprudence given the stakes? Comprehensive immigration reform is the only way out of this mess. The sooner, the better.

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