Oh, there’s no doubt that the DOJ will challenge the law — the politics demands it, which is one reason why Holder expressed his concern today — but wouldn’t it be keen if the country’s chief law enforcement officer held off on prejudicing public opinion about it until the review is done? In theory (albeit not in political reality), Holder could come back and say that the law is constitutional, which would leave The One … where? Shrugging it off after all but pronouncing it a tool for racial profiling today?
In fact, I don’t think this is even factually correct:
The president said, “you can try to make it really tough on people who look like they, quote, unquote look like illegal immigrants. One of the things that the law says is that local officials are allow to ask somebody who they have a suspicion might be an illegal immigrant for their papers — but you can imagine if you are a Hispanic American in Arizona, your great, great grandparents may have been there before Arizona was even a state. But now suddenly if you don’t have your papers and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you’re going to be harassed, that’s something that could potentially happen.”
One of the open questions about the statute is whether it lets cops detain people solely because they’re suspected of being here illegally or whether some independent suspicion of criminal activity has to exist first, at which point the issue of illegal status can be raised. The lawyer who e-mailed me the other day thinks the “lawful contact” provision means that independent suspicion is required; Byron York reads the statute the same way. Assuming that reading is correct, then no, cops can’t pull you aside if you’re on your way to get ice cream with your kid just because they think you might be illegal. Or at least, they can’t do so lawfully: If they abuse their power then the state will pay, both literally and figuratively. And given the publicity this thing is getting, there’ll be no shortage of lawyers eager to make them do so.
I have no problem with lefties — or righties — noting the potential problems in the bill, but given the hysteria swirling around it and the size of Obama’s megaphone, a little bit of that “first-class temperament” we’ve heard so much about would have gone a long way here. Nothing fancy required; a simple “let me hold off on commenting until the Department of Justice weighs in” would have been dandy. But then, now that we’re in midterms mode, The One needs enemies to beat on. How nice that Arizona could help him out. Skip ahead to 4:40 for the relevant clip.