The Constitution

The Supreme Court will have heard two of the most contentious cases that have been heard in the Obama administration by the end of this week.  The first, of course, was the case of Obamacare and now the second, the Arizona immigration bill.

I find it fascinating that people are looking at how the court will or should act not based on the legal standing or constitutionality of the laws in question but rather on the policy of the law.

For example, there is a nation full of people who think that it’s a good idea to contribute to the medical needs of people who might otherwise not be able to.  Sadly, there are people who think that idea is a bad one.  I think valid arguments could be made on both sides.

Then, however, you can take that population of people who think we SHOULD contribute to the relief of folks who need care and split them into two general groups:

  1. Those who think this should be done through personal charity.
  2. Those who think this should be done by the state.

Again, valid arguments around. However, there are constraints as to what a government, in this case FEDERAL government, can do.  No matter how good an idea might be, or how bad, it still may not be constitutional.

Same can be said for the Arizona law.  No matter how bad an idea you may think such a law is, the question before the court is this:

Can Arizona pass a  law that makes illegal immigration status a state crime?

I think that we’re gonna find out that indeed, a federal government may NOT mandate the purchase of a good.  AND that states may pass laws defining  federal crimes as state crimes as well.

I don’t think that this should surprise anyone.

 

7 responses to “The Constitution

  1. I definitely agree that legal philosophy, the facts of the case and precedent should determine the result, not politics.

    For Arizona the government does have a case that state interference in federal control of the country’s borders over steps a state’s authority. I’d need to read up on this (precedent, legal argument) before I’d venture an opinion on how it should be decided.

    The interesting thing about the health care case is that the government rests its argument on a lot of past decisions that conservatives supported concerning federal law. I’m not sure how I’d rule — I generally dislike too much federal authority vis-a-vis states, but the government does have a lot of precedent on its side. Both should be interesting.

    By the way, you’re two groups of people example up there is too limited. There are also people who think it should be through charity, but personal charity cannot hope to raise enough to handle it, so therefore the state has to intervene. It also includes the argument I made elsewhere about the national interest — our health care system is damaging us, and other countries give us examples of what might work better. BUT ultimately all of that is irrelevant to the issue of constitutionality.

    The interesting issue of the law is how it responds to cultural change. Overturning “separate but equal” resulted from a cultural shift in basic meanings, rendering what was once clearly constitutional into something clearly unconstitutional. That’s why we can’t look too closely at the founders’ intent in their own context — they had slaves after all. We have to look at the principles espoused and the language, and adjust that to our context. That’s often very difficult.

    • For Arizona the government does have a case that state interference in federal control of the country’s borders over steps a state’s authority. I’d need to read up on this (precedent, legal argument) before I’d venture an opinion on how it should be decided.

      The feds can define “federal murder.” And then the states can define “state murder.”

      The feds can define “federal immigration law” and the states can define “state immigration law.”

      This seems to me to be about as basic as it gets. The states get to decide law that is not specifically granted the federal government.

      There are also people who think it should be through charity, but personal charity cannot hope to raise enough to handle it, so therefore the state has to intervene.

      The federal government is meant to be a referee, not an actor. There is no room for the feds to decide that 8 yards constitutes a first down in this case.

      • Check out Article VI, Clause 2. States can’t develop policy that counteracts or conflicts with a valid federal policy. Immigration is a national level issue well within the powers of the federal government to regulate, therefore Arizona can’t interfere with immigration policy.

        Imagine all the hell Arizona would raise if New Mexico announced that they were going to have a free and open border with Mexico and grant state citizenship to anyone who showed up. Suddenly Arizona would become a big fan of federal authority.

        • States can’t develop policy that counteracts or conflicts with a valid federal policy. Immigration is a national level issue well within the powers of the federal government to regulate, therefore Arizona can’t interfere with immigration policy.

          Right.

          But Arizona isn’t trying to craft policy. For example, like your New Mexico point below, Arizona isn’t saying that to be a recognized legal immigrant in Arizona you have to meet all Federal requirements AND additional ones. They are simply saying that if you are here illegally per the Federal statutes then you are breaking state law.

  2. When the federal government is unable to enforce it’s own laws, why can’t a state help it out ? If the Obama administration refuses to enforce immigration law and Arizona is over run with illegal immigrants, what is the problem with Arizona enforcing the law ? If the Supreme Court rules with the Obama administration then State and local Authorities should be banned from ever cooperating with Federal authorities on terrorism, kidnapping, drugs, etc.

    Eric Holder and the rest of the clowns our lord and master Obama has set over us, selectively enforce whatever laws they feel like .

    • Who will decide if the federal government is unable to do so? Arizona will always think that the Feds are unable to enforce immigration policy because, quite frankly, they don’t like immigration. They don’t get to set their own benchmark, decide the Feds aren’t meeting it, and then enforce their own ideals.

  3. It’s a bit more complicated than you’ve laid it out. Just as the Constitution reserves to the states those powers not tasked to the Federal government, where the Federal government does act, it’s actions generally serve to preempt state action. Nobody questions that the Federal Government has Constitutional authority to control immigration (legal and illegal). Immigration “crimes” therefore can’t just be compared to a crime like murder where the State has clear authority to prosecute.

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