Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Arizona Law has its Conservative Critics.

While the bombastic, loud-mouthed, angry, radio conservative entertainers have been very vocal and enthusiastic in support of Arizona’s new immigration law, some of the more thoughtful conservative commentators say the law is flawed and goes too far.

I heard Mark Levine today and I think he was foaming at the mouth. I thought he was going to blow a casket. He argued we have a right to protect our borders and this new law is the way to go about it. He was very hostile to critics of the law and belittled and attacked David Brooks and Jeb Bush who have been critical of the new law. Several of the other talk show conservative have been equally supportive of the law and critical of the laws critics.

Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard and Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post both disapprove of the bill. Barnes says the bill goes "way too far" and calls it "draconian." Krauthammer agrees with those who argue the bill could create civil rights abuses. David Brooks says the law is "terrible" and "an invitation to abuse."

Jeb Bush, former Florida governor has said, "I think it creates unintended consequences." "It's difficult for me to imagine how you're going to enforce this law. It places a significant burden on local law enforcement and you have civil liberties issues that are significant as well."

Actually the new law, while bad, may not be quite as draconian as I first thought. The law may not amount to much. The text of the bill, “Requires officials and agencies to reasonably attempt to determine the immigration status of a person involved in a lawful contact where reasonable suspicion exists regarding the immigration status of the person, except if the determination may hinder or obstruct an investigation.”

That is nuanced. The police are required to enforce the law but yet still must make some judgment calls. The original police contact has to be “lawful.” I am not sure what a “lawful” police contact means and I am not sure what constitutes “reasonable suspicion.” I’m glad I am not a policeman. I suspect that the first time a Hispanic American citizen is thrown in jail for not having proof of citizenship the law will be challenged and we will find out what the law means.

While the law may not be quite as bad as I thought it was the first time I read it, it still is a transfer of power from the individual to the state. “Reasonable suspicion” following a “lawful contact” is no doubt a less stringent standard than “probable cause.” If it is not, then nothing really changes.

I find it disturbing that so many conservatives are ready to take the side of a lessening of the rights for the individual and a support more power for the state. Conservatives who generally profess love of the constitution and really like the 2nd Amendment and the 12th Amendment don’t seem equally as keen on the 6th Amendment. They don’t care for all that pansy-ass liberal stuff about “right of the people to be secure in their persons” and they don’t like all that stuff about “probably cause.”

And all that talk about “limited government?” Well, conservative want a government that is not powerful enough to force you to purchase health insurance but that doesn’t mean they want a government unable to throw you in jail if you are not carrying proof of citizenship.

Although they risk being labels “RINO,” or attacked as “elitist,” or labeled “inside the beltway,” or members of the "chattering class," I am glad that we have conservatives like Krauthammer, Barnes and Brooks who will do more than just feed people’s anger. I am glad that we have conservatives who will think and analyze. I am glad we have conservatives who will stand by their support of the constitution and stand for less government even when it is not the popular position to take.

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  1. Thank you for this thoughtful commentary. Classic, constitutional conservativism is something far too many "modern conservatives" fear. We need people who stick to their principles.

  2. I am glad for the reform in AZ. The State must have some powers if only because so many people break the law. Remember, AZ is stepping up because the Feds don't have a strong immigration policy so the AZ law may be stricter than it otherwise would have been had the Feds been doing their job.

  3. Another comment from the other side of the aisle...

    First, let me say that as pansy-ass liberal, I'm agreeing with Rod on this.

    One of my concerns with much of what passes as political discourse, from both the left and the right, relies on commentator/entertainers blowing a gasket, breaking down in tears, or other devices which embroil, but don't enlighten.

    I am not a lawyer either, but the phrase "lawful contact" concerns me. The way I understand it is that it means that the police officer does not have to have to already be investigating someone because of believed criminal activity.

    As an example, if a police officer pulls over a person for speeding, and then discovers that the person is undocumented, my understanding of current law is that they could detain them on immigration status violations. As I understand "lawful contact", it is about pulling over someone, without any other reason than simply "reasonable suspicion", which seems to be a much lower bar than "probably cause".

    As such, I see this as most likely being unconstitutional. That said, it also communicates a willingness by some to try to circumvent the constitution for the sake of expediency. Yes, we all need to be secure, but cannot become more secure by taking away the rights of others to be secure.

  4. I think Arizona is much less secure with 400,000+ illegals running around there.

  5. As expected, this discussion got stupid and emotional rather quickly. This is why I can't stand you spectrum-worshiping types. "Unsubscribe to comments on this post."

  6. I'm happy to see this post. I felt alone as a conservative opposing this legislation (pre H.B.2162, that is). Thank you for your independence.