Arizona Immigration Law Struck Down: A Pyrrhic Victory For Obama

Legal Round One Winners:  Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama!  Legal Round One Losers:  Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and the Arizona Legislature.  Political Round One Winners:  Gov. Jan Brewer and the Secure Borders Crowd.  Political Round One Losers:  President Obama and the Amnesty Crowd. 

On Wednesday, July 28, just one day before Arizona’s Immigration Law was to go into effect, United States District Judge Susan R. Bolton, a Clinton appointee, enjoined Arizona from enforcing the most controversial portions of that state’s tough anti-immigration bill.   Agreeing with the Federal government’s argument that much of the new state law was “preempted” by Federal Immigration Law, Judge Bolton’s controversial decision came down to this:     

The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution makes federal law “the supreme law of the land.” (U.S. Const. art. VI, cl. 2.)  The Supreme Court has consistently ruled that the federal government has broad and exclusive authority to regulate immigration, supported by both enumerated and implied constitutional powers.  

Using case law and binding precedent, particularly Hines v. Davidowitz, a 1941 U.S. Supreme Court case which struck down a Pennsylvania “Alien Registration Act,” Bolton, in reaching her conclusion, relied upon Justice Hugo Black’s majority opinion, which reads in pertinent part:  

That the supremacy of national power in the general field of foreign affairs, including power over immigration, naturalization, and deportation, is made clear by the Constitution, was pointed out by the authors of The Federalist in 1787, and has since been given continuous recognition by this Court.  When the national government, by treaty or statute, has established rules and regulations touching the rights, privileges, obligations or burdens of aliens as such, the treaty or statute is the supreme law of the land. No state can add to or take from the force and effect of such treaty or statute, for Article VI of the Constitution provides that “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof, and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land, and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.  

Love her or hate her, I believe that Judge Bolton’s decision was within the bounds of reasonable jurisprudence, even if other judges may have come to a different conclusion.  If conservatives say that they believe in the rule of law, then one can hardly fault Judge Bolton for deferring to the Federal Government in this case, especially when both the Constitution and court opinions recognize the Fed’s supremacy in the area of immigration.  Most conservatives, if we are honest, would admit that we think President Obama is wrong on every issue, including the Arizona law.  If you’re not convinced, ask yourself if you would be as upset if the judge would have sided with President Ronald Reagan on a similar Federal vs. State case. 

That is not to say that this decision does not have political consequences.  It most certainly does.  This ruling, while seemingly a hard-fought victory for President Obama and his Attorney General, Eric Holder, may end up being pyrrhic.  They may have won the battle in Arizona, but the war on illegal immigration does not appear to have any end in sight.    

      

          

          

           

           

   

       

         

 

    

 
 

           

         

Obama!  Legal Round One Losers:  Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and the Arizona Legislature.  Political Round One Winners:  Gov. Jan Brewer and the Secure Borders Crowd.  Political Round One Losers:  President Obama and the Amnesty Crowd.  On Wednesday, July 28, just one day before Arizona‘s Immigration Law was to go into effect, United States District Judge Susan R. Bolton, a Clinton appointee, enjoined Arizona from enforcing the most controversial portions of that state’s tough anti-immigration bill.      

Agreeing with the Federal government’s argument that much of the new state law was “preempted” by Federal Immigration Law, Judge Bolton’s controversial decision came down to this:       

The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution makes federal law “the supreme law of the land.” (U.S. Const. art. VI, cl. 2.)  The Supreme Court has consistently ruled that the federal government has broad and exclusive authority to regulate immigration, supported by both enumerated and implied constitutional powers.     

Using case law and binding precedent, particularly Hines v. Davidowitz, a 1941 U.S. Supreme Court case which struck down a Pennsylvania “Alien Registration Act,” Bolton, in reaching her conclusion, relied upon Justice Hugo Black’s majority opinion, which reads in pertinent part:     

That the supremacy of national power in the general field of foreign affairs, including power over immigration, naturalization, and deportation, is made clear by the Constitution, was pointed out by the authors of The Federalist in 1787, and has since been given continuous recognition by this Court.  When the national government, by treaty or statute, has established rules and regulations touching the rights, privileges, obligations or burdens of aliens as such, the treaty or statute is the supreme law of the land. No state can add to or take from the force and effect of such treaty or statute, for Article VI of the Constitution provides that “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof, and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land, and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”    

Love her or hate her, I believe that Judge Bolton’s decision was within the bounds of reasonable jurisprudence, even if other judges may have come to a different conclusion.  If conservatives say that they believe in the rule of law, then one can hardly fault Judge Bolton for deferring to the Federal Government in this case, especially when both the Constitution and court opinions recognize the Fed’s supremacy in the area of immigration.  If you’re not convinced, ask yourself if you would be as upset if the judge would have sided with President Ronald Reagan on a similar case.     

That is not to say that this decision does not have political consequences.  This ruling, while seemingly a hard-fought victory for President Obama and his Attorney General, Eric Holder, may end up being pyrrhic.  They may have won the battle in Arizona, but the war on illegal immigration does not appear to have any end in sight.    

Advertisements

About Howell Scott

I have been a Southern Baptist pastor for the last fourteen years. Before entering the ministry, I was a practicing attorney in my homestate of Florida. I have been married to my wife, Brenda, for 18 years and we have three sons, Stephen, Jacob, and Andrew.
This entry was posted in Immigration Reform and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Arizona Immigration Law Struck Down: A Pyrrhic Victory For Obama

  1. Marty says:

    While I agree with the Fed’s case that immigration is their bailiwick, this case certainly raises the question of states’ rights to protect and defend their citizens. While I’m “sure” the Obama administration has only the “best” of intentions with regard to the immigration problem, one really wonders what the point of fighting it was. There appears to be no concern for the problems Arizona is facing from all the illegals there, i.e. – health care, violent crime, identity theft, and services abuse. I really truly question WHY the Feds fought this. Was it a turf war? I certainly hope Obama isn’t that petty. Was it actually for the rule of law? I HIGHLY doubt it. These are politicians we’re talking about.

    I’ll tell you what it LOOKS like. It looks like a certain political party using the Federal Government to flex its muscles in an attempt to garnish more votes after another amnesty attempt.

    However, as you stated earlier, the writing is really on the wall for this regime. This will only serve to turn the people against this administration and his cronies in Congress.

    • Howell Scott says:

      Marty,

      Hope things are going well for you up at the northern border. I have no doubt that the federal lawsuit was completely political. I do not believe that the Obama administration has the “best” of intentions with regard to immigration, otherwise they would enforce the federal laws. But, when they can try to cynically use some within a particular ethnic group to agitate for radical policies, they will do it. If Obama would concentrate on border security first — which, for political reasons, he will not — by finishing the fence along the southern border and beefing up border patrol, and going hard against businesses that employ illegals, then I believe many Americans would be open to discussing what to do with the illegal immigrants that are here. I’ll be posting tomorrow morning about how we can extend grace to the children of illegals that are born here. Obama and Holder may have won legal victory, but November may be a different story. All my best to Heather and the family. Thanks for reading and commenting. God bless,

      Howell

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s