Immigration

Jan Brewer on SB 1070: Jesus 'Got Me Here'

According to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, the aftermath of SB 1070 was hardest on… Jan Brewer. In an interview with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network, Brewer defended her harsh and partly unconstitutional anti-immigration law SB 1070, and even cited Jesus. She told Brody that she felt politicians turned on her after she signed the discriminatory, racial profiling bill into law, noting that the aftermath was “tough” on her and she would sit on her patio and think “Jesus hold my hand, you got me here, now you’ve got to get me through all of this.”

Watch:

The signing of SB 1070 was a very difficult time for me personally because I knew immediately that although we monitored the bill and amended the bill in the legislature that it was going to be a lightning rod, however, I didn’t know or realize at the time just how big of a lightning rod it was going to be. But I knew that they would be out there, some of the political pundits and elected officials calling Arizona racist and bigots. And they turned on me, they really turned on me harshly and it hurts. And when you see protesters saying and doing and presenting things out there that represent things that you just absolutely know aren’t true, that was tough. Many a night I would sit on my patio and think, Jesus hold my hand, you got me here, now you’ve got to get me through all of this.

Moore: 'False Religions' in America are Persecuting Christians; Undocumented Immigrants Have More Rights than Citizens

Alabama’s Roy Moore, the Republican Party’s nominee for Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court who in 2003 was removed from the same post after he refused to move a Ten Commandments monument he installed in the courthouse rotunda, spoke to Steve Deace last week to register his disapproval with the Supreme Court’s rulings on Arizona’s anti-immigrant SB 1070 and the health care reform law.

He maintained that the Court, by striking down parts of SB 1070 while upholding the Affordable Care Act, have given undocumented immigrants more rights than citizens. “I’m curious what would happen if an Arizona policeman arrests an illegal alien going to a health care facility without a green card and find out that they haven’t paid the individual mandate, are they to be detained or released or what?” Moore asked, even though undocumented immigrants are not covered in the law. “Steve, do we have less rights than people that have no right to be here?” he continued.

Later, he warned that “false religions” are taking hold in America and as a result “Christians are being persecuted while people of a religion foreign to our country are doing what they want.” Moore, who earlier warned that secular government leads to Sharia law, appeared to twist Thomas Jefferson’s Bill for Religious Freedom, where Jefferson said that governments throughout history have established and imposed religions forcibly on their people, to attack non-Christian minorities:

Moore: Thomas Jefferson in his Bill for Religious Freedom said that would happen, when men presume to restrict your freedom then they will allow false religions to come into your country and it all began when he said ‘well aware that the opinions and beliefs of man depend not upon their own will but follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to their minds that almighty God hath created the mind free.’ You see he recognized that God gives him that freedom of conscience and when men come in and try to restrict it what happens is false religions come in and that’s what’s happening in our country today. Christians are being persecuted while people of a religion foreign to our country are doing what they want.

Steve King Accuses Obama of Destroying the Constitution, Breaking his Oath of Office

Back in June, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) talked to Janet Mefferd about President Obama’s decision against deporting undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children, which naturally angered the notoriously anti-immigrant congressman. King agreed with Mefferd that the announcement was made for political purposes, arguing that Obama wants to “get a political benefit from the destruction that he is doing to the Constitution of the United States.”

He went on to claim that Obama has “really damaged” the reputation of the University of Chicago Law School, where he served as a professor, and also insisted that Obama is breaking his presidential oath of office. “This oath means nothing to him; the Constitution is an impediment to him,” King said, “I have hit the limit of my patience with trying to work my way towards an election and hopefully we will elect ourselves a new president.”

Days after the interview, the Supreme Court appeared to approve of the government’s ability to use “discretion in the enforcement of immigration law” in their ruling that overturned parts of Arizona’s SB 1070.

Mefferd: Now he’s doing it as a re-election strategy, do you think that that is the motivation for this?

King: I think it is and the timing of it would suggest that. The president is scheduled to give a speech today before the Hispanic leaders that are gathered together at the national level, the same group that Mitt Romney spoke to here a couple days ago. It seems to me that the timing of this is to be ahead of that speech so that he can get a political benefit from the destruction that he is doing to the Constitution of the United States. You know, this president taught constitutional law as an adjunct professor at the University of Chicago, one of the top five most respected law schools in the country year after year after year, and he has really damaged their reputation.



King: It’s almost as if there is a team there in the White House that keeps track of everything the president says and whatever he gives his word on they have to set about breaking his word. The president has broken his own word so many times that it is hardly even a subject anymore. But it isn’t just the president’s word, this is his oath of office, ‘I do solemnly swear to the best of my ability to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States so help me God.’ That’s what he said. And in the Constitution, just shortly behind that oath, is the requirement that he, meaning the president, ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed’ and he is doing the exact opposite. This oath means nothing to him; the Constitution is an impediment to him. I have hit the limit of my patience with trying to work my way towards an election and hopefully we will elect ourselves a new president and get a new executive branch of government, this is a place where we have to draw a bright line.

Split Decisions Impact Immigration and Unions

Here’s a quick recap of the Supreme Court’s decisions during the past week: Unions are now further disadvantaged and despite some important changes to the state’s immigration law, racial profiling remains a viable option for Arizona law enforcement.

On June 21, the Supreme Court issued its decision on Knox v. Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000. The case dealt with a labor policy several states have, known as agency shops, in which employees are not required to become members of the union representing their place of employment, but must pay dues since they benefit from the work the union does. At the point in which all employees working at an establishment that has a union presence are receiving higher wages, more vacation days, and overall better working conditions, it is only fair that all employees pay union dues and not free-ride off of just the union members who pay.

However, in the case of public sector unions, the Supreme Court held a generation ago that non-members have the right to opt out of having their dues used for political activity by the union, effectively weakening the union’s ability to operate on its members’ behalf. In Knox, the Court criticized the balance struck in 1986 and ruled that when the union has a mid-year special assessment or dues increase, it cannot collect any money at all from non-union members unless they affirmatively opt-in (rather than opt-out). This ruling addressed an issue that wasn’t raised by the parties and that the union never had a chance to address, furthering the Right Wing’s goal to hamper a union’s ability to collect dues and make it harder for unions to have a voice in a post-Citizens United political environment. To add insult to injury, Justice Alito let his ideological leanings shine through when he essentially claimed right-to-work laws are good policy.

After the Knox v. SEIU decision, the court released its ruling on the highly contentious 2010 Arizona anti-immigration law, known as S.B. 1070. In a 5-3 decision, the court struck down the majority of the southwestern state’s draconian immigration policy. The court ruled that much of the state’s law unconstitutionally affected areas of law preempted by the federal government, acknowledging the impracticality of each state having its own immigration policy. Oppressive anti-immigrant provisions were struck down, such as one criminalizing the failure to carry proof of citizenship at all times, and a provision making it illegal under state law for an undocumented immigrant to apply for or hold a job. The decision also recognized that merely being eligible for removal is not in itself criminal, and thus the suspicion of being eligible for removal is not sufficient cause for arrest.

Although the majority of S.B. 1070 was overturned by the Supreme Court this week, one component remains, at least for the moment. Officers can still check the immigration status of anyone stopped or arrested if they had “reasonable suspicion” that the individual may be undocumented. This keeps the door wide open for racial profiling. Arresting an individual is not the same as being convicted for a crime. Latinos and other minority groups can be stopped for a crime as simple as jaywalking and “appear” suspicious enough to warrant an immigration background check. By leaving this portion of the law, the US Supreme Court has, for the time being, allowed the potential profiling of thousands of Arizona residents, regardless of whether they are immigrants or US citizens, but has left open the ability to challenge the manner in which this provision is put into practice.

PFAW

Religious Right Divided on Obama's Immigration Announcement

A number of top Religious Right figures over the last few years have been trying to rally support among conservatives for comprehensive immigration reform, arguing that Hispanics are potential allies in their anti-choice and anti-gay advocacy work while warning that if the Right continues to alienate and demonize Latino voters then they will be writing their own political death sentence. As a result, it wasn’t a surprise to see Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention and Sam Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference enthusiastically applaud the Obama administration decision to stop deporting undocumented immigrations who are under the age of 30 and arrived in the U.S. before they were 16 years old, and Republican activist Adryana Boyne endorsed the move at the stage of the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s national summit on Saturday.

However, not all social conservatives are on board.

Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family, who earlier this month signed onto the pro-reform Evangelical Immigration Table, called the announcement partisan and divisive. Minnery even suggested that the decision to stop deporting some young migrants is bad for families because they won’t be deported with their parents:

Tom Minnery, Focus on the Family’s senior vice president for government and public policy, said he was disappointed with the president’s actions.

“A quick fix in a contentious issue seems designed only for partisan advantage and will divide the country even further,” he said.

Minnery noted that the action will serve to break up families by targeting parents for deportation, while leaving young people behind to fend for themselves.

“Teenagers just out of high school, without intact families, are more likely to wind up dependent on the government,” he said. “This is no solution at all.”

American Family Association’s Buster Wilson attacked the decision by revisiting a debunked conspiracy theory that the Department of Homeland Security thinks that people “who believe in pro-life issues and the second coming of Jesus should be watched as potential terrorists vote,” and then went on to wonder whether Obama is going to allow the young people impacted by the decision to vote, even though they won’t be granted citizenship:

It’s so interesting to me that these people who are, whether they were brought here as children by fault of their known or not, they are still in the process of violating US immigration law. Janet Napolitano will work with her president to do whatever she can to honor those folks while first thing she did in this position, right out of the shoot back in 2009, was issue a white paper to all law enforcement saying that people like you and me who believe in pro-life issues and the second coming of Jesus should be watched as potential terrorists. Incredible; I continue to ask every day now what country am I living in? It is not the America I grew up in.



Another thing that was suggested by some, and I have tried to be fair about this and to try to ascertain how this could happen. I don’t know what the process would be to make this happen, but some have suggested that 800,000 young but old enough to get work permit illegals that the president is throwing out the welcome mat to, giving them basically a soft, backdoor amnesty, could this be his way in an election year, in just months before the election, of adding 800,000 plus votes to his side of the ledger in November? Good question to ask.

PFAW Applauds Obama’s Change to Deportation Policy

President Obama announced a new immigration policy today that would allow undocumented residents who would qualify under the DREAM Act to gain work authorization and avoid deportation.

“The President’s announcement today is a victory for common sense,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “This country was built on the premise that each of us is responsible for our own actions. It’s outrageous to punish and deport hard working young people who were brought to this country at a very young age and who want nothing more than to stay here and contribute to their communities.

“While it’s disappointing that Republicans in Congress, even some who have sponsored the DREAM Act in the past, have chosen to play politics with immigration, President Obama’s order today is an important step forward for the country. It draws a sharp contrast between this President’s willingness to stand up for what’s right and the GOP’s willingness to sacrifice the economy and basic fairness in order to cater to an increasingly extreme base.”

###

The Ultimate Obama-Islam-Sharia-Agenda 21-Immigration-Debt Conspiracy

The number of right-wing conspiracy theories relating to President Obama, Islam, Sharia Law, immigration, Agenda 21 and the debt seems to be growing exponentially…but finally now there is one conspiracy theory that brings them all together.

Avi Lipkin, who on speaking tours in churches and synagogues across America says he learned secret information from his wife, whom he claims is an Israel intelligence officer. On Crosstalk with Vic Eliason of VCY America, Lipkin maintained that Obama is a Saudi plant who is out to destroy Israel and the United States:

Lipkin: Obama was made a Muslim man in Indonesia by age 11. He said, ‘I’ve got health care problems, I got economic problems in America, Muslims in Egypt and Muslims in the Muslim world, be patient, I will show you when the time comes what I am going to do to Israel.’ My wife picked up other broadcasts, for example the Saudis were saying, ‘we will have a Muslim in the White House in 2008.’ The Saudis also said, ‘Obama has three tasks: task number 1 is to destroy the Shiite threat in Iran, task number 2 is to destroy the Jewish threat Israel, task number 3 is to destroy the great Christian Satan America and turn America into a Muslim country.’

Surely you’ve heard that one before. But, you may not have known that Obama will destroy America by supporting the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in order to collapse the region’s economy after the group persecutes the country’s Christians, leading to a wave of Muslim immigration to the United States. Obama will then settle the “50-100 million” Muslim immigrants on “lands confiscated by Agenda 21,” the sustainable development initiative, and bring about Sharia law in the U.S.

Obama also built up the national debt to a point where the U.S. will need a bailout from Saudi Arabia, who will grant it with the condition that “America will surrender its Christianity.” Lipkin explains that God sent the Muslim immigrants to the U.S. to be “hunters” of Jews and Christians, forcing them to leave the U.S. and move to Israel:

Lipkin: The Muslim Brotherhood is going to end up either killing, converting to Islam or expelling the remaining Christians of Egypt. When the Christians of Egypt are gone, the economy of Egypt is gone. When the economy of Egypt is gone, the 76 Muslims who remain are going to starve to death. What do people do when they starve? They leave. Where do they go to? America. Who’s going to bring them in? Obama. Where is he going to settle them? In the lands confiscated by Agenda 21.



Lipkin: America will be Muslim by 2016. 2016 is the eighth year of President Obama, meaning he is going to bring in 50-100 million Muslims because it is inevitable that all these Islamic countries cannot rule, they don’t know how to rule themselves, they are completely inept, and after they kill all the Christians that remain there will not be any economy left so you’re going to have overnight 50-100 million Muslims coming in. You cannot put them in American cities, you have got to create entire new areas populated in the United States and Canada with these Muslims.

Eliason: Where Sharia law holds forth?

Lipkin: Yes! So you have Agenda 21, you have Sharia law, by the way I’m going to throw out a real wildcard now. You have all those people who talk about the American debt being insolvable, where are you going to get $14 trillion from? The answer is very simple, you don’t think the Saudis have $14 trillion in cash? They’ll give you the cash and they will say ‘we own you now, we’re going to take over America.’ And Americans will say, ‘if we don’t do this we’re going to lose our economy and we’re going to lose our dollar and everything.’ The American economic problem is not a problem if the Saudis come in and bring in their cash. The problem here is America will surrender its Christianity.



Lipkin: If and when a war breaks out in the Middle East between Israel and its neighbors then you will see 10, 20, 30 million, maybe more, 40, 50 million Muslims, some of them are going to rise up in a 9/11 type terrorist attacks and they are not afraid to die, they cherish death, and American law enforcement with all the best of intentions will not be capable of dealing with this. They are not going to kill 10 million, they are going to kill some and a lot of Jews and Christians are going to go into hiding and eventually a lot of them will eventually leave the United States and coming to Israel so I see this as a spatula, they leave by God, you have the hunters and these hunters are going to be the Muslims. I believe America will come out of this mess but it’s going to be a very rough time, weeks, months, before the situation is brought under control. The more Muslims you have in America the more capable they will be to wreak havoc on Jews and Christians.

Maybe She Wishes Romney's Position Wasn't So Clear

The Republican National Committee’s Hispanic Outreach Director Bettina Inclan sparked a mini-firestorm today when she told reporters that she could not comment on Romney’s immigration positions because “he’s still deciding what his position on immigration is.”  She later tried to clean up the mess by tweeting that she was mistaken, and that his position was clear, linking to his website

Unfortunately for Romney and for the RNC’s Hispanic outreach, his position is all too clear: he opposes not only “amnesty” but all “magnets” – such as the DREAM Act or in-state tuition for students whose parents brought them here as children.  Romney has backed legislation, like Arizona’s, that has the goal of making life for undocumented immigrants so miserable that they will choose to “self-deport.”  That’s a bit much even for some right-wing activists, including some of those at the Freedom Federation’s recent Awakening conference in Orlando, Florida, where one speaker called the “self-deportation” approach “cruel” and “unbiblical” and where the Southern Baptists’ Richard Land called the GOP’s positions on immigration policy “dismal” and “indefensible.”

Religious Right Leaders Urge GOP to Fix Relationship with Heaven-Sent Latinos

A major theme at the Freedom Federation’s Awakening conference last weekend was the need for more effective outreach to Hispanic Christians. Religious Right leaders who are trying to bring more Latinos into the conservative political movement know they are swimming upstream against the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the GOP primaries and the Tea Party, the impact of anti-immigration laws in Arizona and Alabama, and the hostility of GOP elected officials to the DREAM Act. They fear that the well-earned antipathy of Latino voters toward the GOP could prevent them from defeating Barack Obama, which they believe is necessary to prevent the country’s slide into socialist, secularist tyranny.

Several strategies for repairing the breach were on display.

To GOP leaders and the conservatives attending the Awakening, organizers and speakers delivered a surprisingly blunt denunciation of the anti-immigrant rhetoric that has led to the disastrously low polling numbers for Mitt Romney and the Republican Party. At Saturday’s panel on immigration, if you closed your eyes you could almost imagine that you were at a La Raza-sponsored gathering. All the panelists talked about the need for multifaceted “comprehensive immigration reform,” a term that has been vilified by right-wing activists and Republicans as code for “amnesty.”

The Southern Baptists’ Richard Land said it was “absurd” to deport teens whose parents had brought them to the US as children. “I was depressed and angered by the response that Rick Perry got at the debate when he was defending the in-state tuition for the children of undocumented workers in Texas,” said Land, who decried those who “would condemn them to the margins of society and waste a precious national recourse.” During the presidential primary, Land lamented, “the Republican party has painted itself into a corner, and then having surveyed the damage, applied a second coat.” He said many people think Florida Sen. Marco Rubio would be the best possible running mate for Romney, because his support for a “conservative DREAM Act” (which falls far short of the real thing) would be a step toward improving a “dismal and indefensible policy by the Republican Party and the Republican candidates.”


Robert Gittelson, a businessman and co-founder of Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, called strategies to push immigrants to “self-deport” by making their lives miserable – Romney’s stated approach -- “unbiblical” and “cruel.” Barrett Duke, Vice President for Public Policy and Research and Director of the Research Institute of the Southern Baptist’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, talked about a paper he has co-written with Land for Regent University’s law journal, which reviews Bible verses about treatment of strangers. He criticized an “offended citizen” or “law and order” approach to illegal immigration, urging conservatives to take a love-thy-neighbor perspective. “I am not a citizen of the United States first,” he said, “I am a Christian first.”

Panelists even opposed Arizona’s wildly-popular-among-conservatives SB 1070. Regent University president Carlos Campo said the law was “impractical” and made it “almost impossible” for law enforcement not to engage in ethnic profiling. Gittelson worried that if the law is upheld by the Supreme Court, 21 to 23 states would pass similar laws within a year.

And Regent University’s Campo even cautioned against putting too much emphasis on “assimilation,” saying that the “melting pot can burn off some important things.” Land added that the US had been enriched in its culture, cuisine, and music by waves of immigration, though all agreed on the importance of English remaining a common language in the US.

Friday night’s opening session was devoted to Hispanic outreach. Samuel Rodriguez, head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, was scheduled to give the keynote, but he was kept away by a basketball injury so organizers showed his speech from a previous gathering. Rodriguez tries to sell conservatives on bringing Latino evangelicals into the movement; he gets a warm reception by preaching a Religious Right-Tea Party view of government, saying the big-government “Pharaoh” wants to silence Christians and make people dependent on the government.

But Rodriguez and others are also pushing an even bolder strategy for convincing white evangelicals to take a friendlier view of undocumented immigrants – one that was picked up on by other speakers at the Awakening. You could call it the Hispanic Exceptionalism corollary to the theory of divinely inspired American Exceptionalism that is a constant refrain at these gatherings. According to this Hispanic Exceptionalism theory, illegal Hispanic immigrants have actually sent by God to save America from itself.

Self-proclaimed “apostle” Cindy Jacobs told Awakening attendees that God has gathered Latino people to the United States and given them a special emphasis on families and children. As RWW has reported, Rodriguez recently made the same pitch on evangelist James Robison’s TV show. “Now, why has God permitted these Hispanics to arrive in America in the 21st Century? I think it’s a prophetic purpose, and that is to redeem Christianity or we will end up even worse than post-modern Europe.” Rodriguez said the Hispanic community “can once again help make the gospel of Jesus Christ, the church, the most influential institution in America” and he warned that “when we talk about deporting, we are deporting Christianity in America in the 21st century.”

How to Sell Immigration Reform to the Religious Right

The Religious Right, in general, has traditionally taken a pretty hardline stance when it came to the issue of immigration, which was why it was notable last year when a handful of leaders announced their support for a "just assimilation immigration policy" and called upon their allies in the movement "to stop politicizing this debate needlessly."

One of those leaders was Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, who has been the guest on James Robison's "Life Today" television program for the last two days where he has been appealing to the Religious Right to support immigration reform on the grounds that "the Hispanic community loves Jesus" and God has placed them in America in order to bring about revival and redemption:

Fight for immigration equality extends to the customs line

Has your family ever filled out a customs form? LGBT families face a “double” standard when they travel internationally. CBP wants to make things easier.
PFAW

The Roberts Court's 2011-12 Term: Is the Roberts Court Really a Court?

This piece originally appeared on Huffington Post.

Eric Segall, a professor of constitutional law at Georgia State University, has just written a provocative book called Supreme Myths: Why the Supreme Court Is Not a Court and Its Justices Are Not Judges. The thesis is that the Supreme Court, unbound by any court above it, unfastened by the vagueness of constitutional text, and uninhibited by the gift of life tenure, operates like a freewheeling political "veto council" and not like any court that we would recognize as doing judicial work. Professor Segall challenges the legitimacy of the Court's decisions and essentially mounts an attack on the whole institution of constitutional judicial review except where the text of the Constitution is perfectly plain and clear.

It is easy to share Professor Segall's exasperation these days, but his argument is not wholly convincing. It understates how often our other courts--federal appeals and district courts and state courts--operate in a political vein and how often they too find themselves in deep ideological conflict. It also understates how clear, coherent, and logical the Warren Court was when it interpreted even vague constitutional language, like "equal protection" or "freedom of speech." Yet, Segall's clarion call to roll back judicial review today will be read by conservative judges as an invitation to negate and undo essential lines of doctrinal development that began in the Warren Court, especially the "right to privacy" decisions under Due Process, like Griswold v. Connecticut and Roe v. Wade, which Professor Segall in no uncertain terms asserts were wrongly decided.

The claim that the Supreme Court is "not a court" distracts us from what is truly at issue today. The Supreme Court is a court alright--indeed, it is the most powerful court in America, perhaps the world, and there's not much getting around that. It takes cases and controversies, writes opinions that refer to precedents and principles, and operates with the full panoply of constitutional powers reserved to the judiciary. The problem is that it is not a court committed to the rights of the people or to strong democracy unencumbered by corporate power. Indeed, it acts with most energy vindicating the rights of the powerful and the unjust. Alas, this hardly makes it an outlier in American history.

With its 2010 decision in Citizens United, the Roberts-led Court essentially cemented the institution's return to a class-bound right-wing judicial activism. Just as the Supreme Court went to war against social reform and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal in the 1930s, just as it nullified the meaning of Equal Protection in sanctifying "separate but equal" in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, just as it expressed the Supreme Court's pro-slavery and racist jurisprudence in the Dred Scott decision in 1857, the Citizens United decision secured the contemporary Court's unfolding legacy as the unabashed champion of corporate power and class privilege.

The 2011-2012 Supreme Court Term

Several cases currently on the Court's docket will tell us whether the Roberts Court will accelerate its assault on public policies that advance the rights and welfare of the vast majority of "natural persons" in the country. Consider:

Legal War on "Obamacare": Health Care Reform and the Contractible Commerce Clause: Of course, the blockbuster of the Term is the cluster of cases that the Court is hearing on the constitutionality of Obamacare. There are two principal challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The first, and certainly the one with the most political traction on the GOP campaign trail, is the claim that Congress has exceeded its Commerce Clause powers by compelling taxpayers to buy themselves health insurance or else pay a penalty in the program. However, the political ubiquity of this claim contrasts sharply with its feather-like legal force. Commerce Clause jurisprudence is replete with cases of Congress regulating national economic policy by compelling individuals to take actions that they would prefer not to take, such as serving customers in their restaurant that they don't want to serve or recognizing a union in their factory and reinstating workers who they fired for organizing it (see my Report for PFAW Foundation, The True Spirit of the Union: How the Commerce Clause Helped Build America and why the Corporate Right Wants to Shrink It Today, for a detailed accounting).

The ACA comes well within Congress's broad authority to address issues of national importance that affect the lives of millions of people moving and working in the streams of interstate commerce. Despite recent efforts by conservative Justices to constrict Congress's powers under the Commerce Clause, the vast majority of lawyers still believe that such powers are expansive and will be upheld even by the Roberts Court. An ABA poll of legal academics, journalists, and lawyers that allowed respondents to remain anonymous showed that fully 85% believe that the Court will uphold the ACA in full, and with a 6-3 vote seen as the most likely outcome. While the Supreme Court in the Citizens United era has been ready and willing to ignore precedent and defy logic in order to achieve its political goals, this law is so mainstream that even they are not expected to do so in this case.

The second challenge, a bit of a sleeper that saw little success in lower courts but now fascinates conservative lawyers, is that Congress has exceeded its powers under the Spending Clause and violated federalism by tying too many strings to federal Medicaid funding and thereby "coercing" states into accepting federal policies. The idea is that Medicaid has grown so big and pervasive that any conditions attached to it constitute a kind of Godfather offer that the states simply cannot refuse. From a doctrinal standpoint, the claim is somewhere between unlikely and silly, which is why no federal law or program has ever been found to unconstitutionally coerce the states under the Spending Clause . Experts in the ABA poll mentioned above predict that this outlandish argument will be rejected in an 8-1 split. A decision to strike down the ACA on this basis would be a stunning development indeed. As with the Commerce Clause issue, a decision to strike down the Medicaid expansion as unconstitutionally coercive would be recognized instantly as an exercise of political will rather than legal judgment.

Of course, should the Court uphold the ACA, as expected by most lawyers, that should not distract anyone from the damage it is doing in other ways, from the constitutional glorification of corporate political power to the continuing erosion of public health, environmental and workplace standards.

Immigration Law: the Arizona Case: Arizona v. United States addresses Arizona's efforts to develop and enforce an immigration law all its own. The statute in question provides law enforcement officers with the power to arrest someone without a warrant based on probable cause to believe that the person committed a deportable act. It also makes it a criminal offense for an undocumented immigrant to apply for a job without valid immigration papers. This presents a clear case of a law that is preempted by federal laws governing and defining U.S. immigration policy, which is committed by the Naturalization Clause of the Constitution to Congress. This case should offer no dilemma for conservatives on the Court, who almost always side with the Executive branch in preemption controversies relating to national security, police enforcement and immigration law. However, underlying all of the debate is legislation hostile to one of America's most scapegoated populations, the undocumented, and that political reality may change the legal calculus.

Attack on Labor Unions: From the repressive "labor injunctions" of the late-19th and early 20th-centuries to the Supreme Court's decisions undermining the right to organize during the New Deal, periods of judicial reaction have always included judicial assaults on the rights of labor to organize unions and fight for their interests. This period is no different, and the Supreme Court has given itself an opportunity, probably irresistible to the five conservative Justices, to take another whack at labor this Term. The case is Knox v. SEIU. It poses the question whether public sector unions must notify members of the union's political expenditures every time they happen so that employees who pay union agency fees to the union for purposes of collective bargaining only may demand a proportional rebate in advance for political expenditures. Or, alternatively, does it suffice to give an annual budgetary statement with notice of political expenditures and invite the "objectors" to seek a rebate at that point? The case, fairly frivolous on its face, but deadly serious in its political mission and reception on the Roberts Court, is obviously designed to further hobble unions and render them ineffectual political actors. The irony is that, through decisions like Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1977) and Communication Workers of America v. Beck (1988), the Court has granted muscular rights and powers to dissenting union members that are totally undreamed-of when it comes to dissenting corporate shareholders. Company shareholders who object to corporate political expenditures have no right to a proportional rebate of their corporate shares, much less that they must be told of such corporate treasury political expenditures in advance. While defenders of the Court's decision in the Citizens United case love to observe that the decision opened the floodgates not just on corporate treasury money but on union treasury money too (as if the two were comparable!), they never follow through and make the obvious point that corporate shareholders should, therefore, enjoy the same rebate rights against "compelled speech" as union members presently enjoy. In any event, the war on unions continues and accelerates, with the Supreme Court poised again to undercut the political effectiveness of public sector labor unions, the last meaningful bulwark of labor solidarity in America.

The Surprising Early Return of College Affirmative Action to the Court:
In Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, the Supreme Court has, surprisingly, decided to review its holding in Grutter v. Bollinger and explore dismantling what remains of affirmative action in the next Term. The 2003 Grutter decision preserved a soft form of affirmative action at the college and university level for young people who belong to racial and ethnic minority groups, but only for a period that Justice Sandra Day O'Connor suggested would be 25 years. Now, just nine years later, the ruling bloc is ominously poised to wipe out affirmative action entirely, a prospect we must judge a rather likely prospect given the Court's express loathing of progressive race-conscious measures and its brazen disregard for the original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment, whose framers clearly contemplated such measures. Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Roberts insist that the Equal Protection Clause compels government to be "color-blind" even if seeks to remedy the effects of historical and continuing racism. This rhetorical gloss is a fundamental distortion of the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment, whose framers clearly championed race-conscious measures, like the Freedmen's Bureau, to assist the historical victims of racism. The current project of using the Equal Protection Clause against racial and ethnic minorities seeks to deny any relationship between historical and present-day discrimination and continuing inequalities of opportunity.

Conclusion

The Supreme Court is, of course, still a court, no matter how much certain Justices behave like partisans. Yet, the Court's ideological politics are in full swing these days as the 5-4 conservative majority fleshes out one-sided doctrines in areas from corporate political rights to corporate commercial speech rights to affirmative action to Congressional power to union rights. This is a Court that almost always chooses corporate power over democratic politics and popular freedoms. In a Court of logic and precedent, a Court without aversion to the channels of popular democracy, the challenge to Obamacare would be a total non-starter. But here we are again, waiting to see whether the Court will follow the path of justice or the path of power.

Jamin Raskin is an American University Law Professor, Maryland State Senator and People For the American Way Senior Fellow.

PFAW

Wildmon Falsely Claims Obama has Never Visited the Border

One of the advantages of being president of the American Family Association and American Family Radio is that you get to host a daily radio program where you can vent your outrage about whatever pops into your head regardless of the fact that you may have no idea what you are talking about, as Tim Wildmon displayed yesterday while interviewing Rep. Trent Franks as he insisted that President Obama has never made a trip to America's southern border because he doesn't care about the issues of immigration and border security. 

In fact, Obama delivered a speech on both of those issues on May 10, 2011 at the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, Texas which is, as you can see, pretty much right on the border:

So we decided to grab a bit of footage from the remarks that President Obama delivered on that day and make a little video to with the aim of helping to satisfy Wildmon's concerns:

Justice Department Charges Anti-Immigrant Hero Joe Arpaio with Long List of Civil Rights Violations

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is something of a hero to the anti-immigrant Right. He was one of the most outspoken proponents of Arizona’s draconian anti-immigrant law last year, in a large part because he had already been using the racial profiling tactics it authorized for years. He delighted in punishing prisoners –including protestors of his tactics – by making them wear pink underwear, a practice he commemorated last month by giving Sarah Palin her very own pair. He briefly had his own reality TV show. He was courted by the Tea Party. GOP presidential candidates, including Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain vied for his endorsement, which he ultimately gave to Rick Perry before joining the candidate on the campaign trail.

Arpaio’s reckless flair for self-promotion and disregard for civil rights have been well-known for as long as he has had national fame. But today, the Justice Department released a long and scathing report detailing the Sheriff’s record of civil rights violations, including his discrimination against Latinos and non-English speakers, “excessive use of force” and “unlawful retaliation against individuals exercising their First Amendment right to criticize MCSO’s policies or practices.”

The AP outlines some of the most shocking allegations in the report:


The civil rights report said Latinos are four to nine times more likely to be stopped in traffic stops in Maricopa County than non-Latinos and that the agency's immigration policies treat Latinos as if they are all in the country illegally. Deputies on the immigrant-smuggling squad stop and arrest Latino drivers without good cause, the investigation found.

A review done as part of the investigation found that 20 percent of traffic reports handled by Arpaio's immigrant-smuggling squad from March 2006 to March 2009 were stops - almost all involving Latino drivers - that were done without reasonable suspicion. The squad's stops rarely led to smuggling arrests.

Deputies are encouraged to make high-volume traffic stops in targeted locations. There were Latinos who were in the U.S. legally who were arrested or detained without cause during the sweeps, according to the report.

During the sweeps, deputies flood an area of a city - in some cases, heavily Latino areas - over several days to seek out traffic violators and arrest other offenders. Illegal immigrants accounted for 57 percent of the 1,500 people arrested in the 20 sweeps conducted by his office since January 2008, according to figures provided by Arpaio's office.

Police supervisors, including at least one smuggling-squad supervisor, often used county accounts to send emails that demeaned Latinos to fellow sheriff's managers, deputies and volunteers in the sheriff's posse. One such email had a photo of a mock driver's license for a fictional state called "Mexifornia."


The report said that the sheriff's office launched an immigration operation two weeks after the sheriff received a letter in August 2009 letter about a person's dismay over employees of a McDonald's in the Phoenix suburb of Sun City who didn't speak English. The tip laid out no criminal allegations. The sheriff wrote back to thank the writer "for the info," said he would look into it and forwarded it to a top aide with a note of "for our operation."
 

Federal investigators focused heavily on the language barriers in Arpaio's jails.

Latino inmates with limited English skills were punished for failing to understand commands in English by being put in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day or keeping prisoners locked down in their jail pods for as long as 72 hours without a trip to the canteen area or making nonlegal phone calls.

The report said some jail officers used racial slurs for Latinos when talking among themselves and speaking to inmates.

Detention officers refused to accept forms requesting basic daily services and reporting mistreatment when the documents were completed in Spanish and pressured Latinos with limited English skills to sign forms that implicate their legal rights without language assistance.

The agency pressures Latinos with limited English skills to sign forms by yelling at them and keeping them in uncomfortably cold cells for long periods of time.

These allegations are disturbing enough in themselves. But what’s even more troubling is that the person behind them has been not only held up as a hero by the Right, but has served as an inspiration for immigration legislation around the country. In a report last year, we examined the ways the anti-immigrant Right has worked to dehumanize immigrants in order “to inflame anti-immigrant sentiment and build political opposition to comprehensive immigration reform.” It should come as no surprise that Sheriff Joe is the movement’s figurehead.
 

Cross-posted from PFAW Blog

Ending Discrimination against Same-Sex Couples: Relationship Recognition in Immigration Law

The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) is a meaningful step toward providing equality to same-sex couples and keeping their families together. It would allow many same-sex partners to begin the immigration process more quickly, efficiently, and with fewer limitations. For many, it could very well be the only avenue available to keep their families together in the US.

African American Ministers in Action Statement on Arizona Immigration Decision

A federal judge today blocked some of the some of the most controversial provisions in the draconian anti-immigrant law Arizona’s governor signed into law in April.
Share this page: Facebook Twitter Digg SU Digg Delicious