The Arizona immigration-enforcement bill has created a national debate, but it may pale in comparison to the infighting in Arizona. The Attorney General expected to defend the law is a Democrat expected to run against Governor Jan Brewer in November, and Terry Goddard’s meeting this week with Eric Holder was apparently the final straw for Brewer. She took advantage of a clause in SB1070 and hired outside counsel to represent Arizona in the case and suspended Goddard from it:
Late Friday night as the Memorial Day weekend began, Arizona’s Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, in effect, suspended the state’s Democratic attorney general from defending the new law in upcoming legal challenges. The measure, known as S.B. 1070, is due to take effect this summer and, among other things, allows local police under federal guidelines to check the immigration status of people they stop. (For a full list of background stories, see Related Items below.)
The governor’s abrupt action against Terry Goddard, her likely Democratic opponent in this fall’s gubernatorial election, came after months of disputes between the two and at the end of a long day of legal maneuvering in both Arizona and the nation’s capital.
As the state’s chief lawyer, Goddard would be expected to take the lead in defending Arizona against challenges to the Legislature’s action, which erupted after years of state frustration with the federal government’s inability to secure the state border with Mexico against illegal immigrants, drugs and criminals.
However, Goddard has vocally opposed the measure, so much so that the Legislature gave the governor advance authority to hire outside legal counsel.
On Friday, Goddard met with the Obama administration’s Atty. Gen. Eric Holder in Washington, then held a news conference just hours before Brewer’s handpicked attorneys were to meet with Holder, an outspoken critic of the law.
Brewer said, “I believe the federal government should use its legal resources to fight illegal immigration, not the State of Arizona.”
Seeing apparent collusion between the two Democrat lawyers, Brewer pulled the plug Friday night.
It’s hard to imagine how Goddard thinks he can benefit from opposing the law or aligning himself so closely with Holder, an outspoken critic of the law. Arizonans overwhelmingly support the law, and they’re not likely to be budged by Holder’s scolding. Arizona voters will also wonder why Goddard is spending his time fighting Arizona rather than getting better cooperation from the Obama administration on immigration enforcement and border security.
The legislature also gave Goddard a vote of no confidence in its opt-out for Brewer. That adds to the baggage Goddard will have to carry into his election. On top of that, the longer this stays a national issue, the more Arizonans will dig in their heels — and the longer resentment towards Goddard will continue.