Saturday, July 31, 2010
More Than 100 Turn Out in Albuquerque's South Valley at Saturday Morning Denish Organizing Meeting
Grassroots power! More than 100 people packed a meeting room today at an early Saturday morning neighborhood organizing meeting with Diane Denish in Albuquerque's South Valley. Diane, the Democratic nominee for New Mexico Governor, has several more grassroots events scheduled for today.
There are fewer than 100 days left until the November 2 election, so now is the time to get active in Diane's campaign. Click to sign up to volunteer, get a bumper sticker or write a letter to the editor in support Diane Denish for Govenor. Click here to get on the campaign mailing list. You're also encouraged to follow Diane on Facebook.
8/5: Grand Opening Celebration at Rep. Martin Heinrich's Campaign Office
From Martin Heinrich for Congress:
Can you believe it? With less than 100 days until central New Mexico decides its future at the polls, we'd like to invite you to join us at the opening of our new campaign headquarters.
Come on down and join Rep. Martin Heinrich at our new office. Let's celebrate all that we've accomplished together and the good work that is to come this campaign season.
- Who: All Constituents and Supporters
- When: Thursday, August 5, from 5:30 to 7:30 PM
- Where: Our new Campaign Headquarters at 2610 San Mateo NE, Suite A in Albuquerque (MAP)
We will have light refreshments and entertainment. To RSVP please email email@example.com. or call the campaign at 505-881-0222.
Friday, July 30, 2010
RNC Chair Michael Steele: Did the GOP's Green Chile Get Him Or Was It Fallout from Sherrod Fiasco?
Michael Steele, who chairs the Republican National Committee and has a habit of getting his foot stuck in his mouth, was in Albuquerque on Thursday for a fundraiser for GOP gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez. No word on how that went -- although we can imagine Steele amusing the far-right-wingo/Tea Party lovin' guests with infamous whoppers like he's told in the past. Like proclaiming that the Afghanistan war was started by President Obama.
In just his first month on the job last year, Steele filled the airwaves with off-kilter chatter -- insulting GOP Saint Rush Limbaugh, threatening moderate Republican senators, offering the “friggin’ awesome” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal some “slum love,” calling civil unions “crazy” and promising more outreach to “urban-suburban hip-hop settings” via an “off the hook” public relations campaign. He even threw a shout-out to “one-armed midgets.”
Steele and Breitbart vs. Sherrod
There have been many more miscues and odd prattle by Steele since then, of course, the latest being his exuberant support for right-wing blogger Andrew Breitbart. Breitbart is the bullying beast who smeared the USDA's Shirley Sherrod by cutting and pasting video of one of her speeches to make it appear she was making racist statements, and then posting it on one of his websites. Poof -- it was all over the right-wing echo chamber in minutes. Oooof, Breitbart's crass manipulation was revealed shortly thereafter and a good many Republicans tried to back away from Breitbart.
Not Michael Steele, though -- he invited Breitbart to be the featured speaker at a GOP fundraiser in Beverly Hills next month. Yes, you read that right.
Tale of the Rumbling Stomach
Anyway, while in New Mexico on Thursday, Steele apparently put something in his mouth (other than his foot) that got the best of him -- green chile perhaps? Did someone on Susana's team serve Steele some muy picoso green Hatch chile that was just too much for a guy from Maryland? Or was it something else?
Steele cancelled his scheduled appearance today before a national meeting of black journalists, explaining that he had contracted a "bad case of food poisoning" while out west, according to an article on CNN.com.
Steele was scheduled to speak today at the National Association of Black Journalists annual meeting in San Diego, but cancelled at the last minute. An RNC spokesman said in an email to CNN, Steele "is disappointed to miss the opportunity to take part in this valuable dialogue and looks forward to engaging with NABJ in the very near future." The RNC spokesman told CNN that Steele had not been to the hospital, but that the chairman had consulted a doctor.
Could it be that Steele felt, um, uncomfortable (as in puckered gut) about making an appearance before the nation's African-American journalists just one day after Shirley Sherrod spoke at the NABJ convention and announced that she plans to file suit against Andrew Breitbart for sullying her good name?
You might say that Republicans are between a rock and a hard place concerning Mr. Breitbart -- who has long been viewed as the go-to guy for right-wing smear campaigns, like the fake prostitution video that brought down ACORN. Their de facto leader Rush Limbaugh and right-wing bloggers continue to defend Breitbart, and you saw what happened last time when Michael Steele dared to be critical of Rush -- he had to apologize.
As Ryan Witt, writing in the Political Buzz blog for the Examiner, explained:
Republicans are now in a difficult position with Breitbart. A number of conservatives, including Rush Limbaugh, still support Breitbart, and if Republicans publicly distance themselves from Breitbart it could draw a backlash. On the other hand, associating closely with the man many blame for the Sherrod mess could have its own costs.
We may never know for sure what caused Michael Steele to beg off speaking to the Black Journalists convention. Either way, though, we know it was a case of Steele having a little problem in the guts department.
8/5: Mimi Stewart Re-Election Campaign Fundraiser, Chama River Brewing Co.
Let's give Rep. Mimi Stewart -- one of our best progressive legislators and a real champion for education, health care and civil liberties for all -- the support she needs to keep her seat in the New Mexico House in District 21. Rep. Stewart again has a Republican challenger, and in a tough mid-term election year we need to make sure Mimi wins in November.
Come on down and see Democratic Rep. Stewart and lots of other folks at the fundraiser on Thursday, August 5, from 5:00 to 7:00 PM at Chama River Brewing Company, 4939 Pan American Freeway NE, in Albuquerque (map). $50 suggested donation, but any and all donations are appreciated.
If you can't make it, please consider donating a few bucks via ActBlue at www.mimistewart.org/.
Heinrich, Luján, Bingaman Weigh In On Signing of Tribal Law and Order Act
Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01) and Rep. Ben Ray Luján (NM-03) attended the bill signing ceremony at the White House yesterday for The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010. Rep. Heinrich is a cosponsor of the legislation that gives American Indian tribes more authority to combat crime on their reservations. The legislation was passed by Congress last week.
"This law will make our Native communities safer by giving law enforcement on tribal lands the resources and authority they need to prosecute and fight crime more effectively," Rep. Heinrich said. "The signing of this bill marks a step forward in public safety on reservations and nearby communities. Today, we sent a clear message that sexual assault and other crimes, far too common on tribal land, will no longer go unnoticed due to lack of resources."
Rep. Luján supported the legislation in the House of Representatives where it passed 326 to 92.
“This legislation helps empower tribal officials to keep their communities safe,” Rep. Luján said.“The legislation improves government to government coordination and enhances sovereignty. I’m encouraged by today’s signing, and I will continue to work with tribal officials to strengthen government to government relationships.”
The Act will improve the criminal justice system on tribal lands and provide tribes with more local control. Specifically, the legislation would require federal officials to notify tribal officials if federal officials decline to prosecute a case on tribal lands. Under the legislation, tribal officials would also obtain information compiled by federal officials and have increased access to national criminal databases. It would also empower tribal police to make arrests for all crimes committed on tribal land.
Senator Jeff Bingaman also weighed in on enactment of the law.
“This new law establishes strong relationships between tribal and federal law enforcement, uniting these entities in an effort to guarantee justice in Indian Country,” Bingaman said.
The law will provide access to funding and will give tribal law enforcement and justice systems additional tools to combat crimes that occur on tribal lands. Combating crime on tribal land has presented significant challenges for law enforcement due to jurisdictional problems and limited sentencing authorities, among other factors.
The major provisions of the law are:
3 Year Sentencing by Tribal Courts: Tribal Courts will have the option to a maximum sentencing of three years (instead of the previous limit of one); better able to provide justice to victims of the tribal communities.
Access to Criminal Records: Tribal police will now have access to criminal history records from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) to ensure officers will have background information of detained individuals.
Domestic and Sexual Violence: All tribal and federal officers serving Indian country will be required to enroll in training on how to interview victims of sexual assault and collecting crime evidence. Also, it requires federal officials to present evidence and information in order to help in prosecutions before tribal courts.
Crime Prevention and Improving Justice System: Programs that help maintain tribal court systems will be reauthorized and improved. Also, laws targeting the high rates of alcohol and substance abuse and programs used to give support to at-risk youth on Indian Country.
The TLOA was passed as part of the Indian Arts and Crafts Amendments Act of 2010, which protects authentic Native American products and goods by making it a federal violation to sale misrepresented Indian goods.
These law enforcement provisions are part of legislation that also amends the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990. Among other things, it expands the authority of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board to bring criminal and civil actions for offenses under such Act involving the sale of misrepresented Indian-produced goods or products, and authorizes (1) any federal law enforcement officer to conduct an investigation of an alleged violation of this Act occurring within the jurisdiction of the United States; and (2) the Board to refer an alleged violation to any such officer (currently, only to the Federal Bureau of Investigation) for investigation.
Photos from the office of Rep. Martin Heinrich.
7/31-8/1: Take a Self-Guided Albuquerque Chicken Coop and Edible Garden Tour
With renewed interest in backyard farming and growing food, residents of the Duke City have been showing up in droves this summer for garden workshops. Now local gardeners who find new inspiration have an opportunity to showcase their gardening prowess with the Albuquerque Garden and Coop Tour.
The FREE self-guided tour of chicken coops, community gardens, school gardens and backyard farms will take place on July 31 and August 1, from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM each day. The Albuquerque Coop and Garden Tour is a citywide event that encourages people to get out and grow their own food.
The committee responsible for this tour is made up of Jennifer Dwyer, Lisa Silva of San Jose Elementary School, Chery Klairwator of The Source Community Garden, Sarah Van Note of Zia Elementary School and Maggie Seeley of Transitions New Mexico. Christianna Cappelle of the Gardeners' Guild contributed contact information for gardens throughout Albuquerque.
Information about the tour locations, including a Google map, will be available TODAY at www.albuquerquecooptour.com. Walking and bike maps of tour stops in the Nob Hill area will also be available July 31st and August 1st at the Nob Hill location of La Montañita Co-op and The Source Community Garden, 1111 Carlisle SE, just north of Gibson.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Diane Denish: NM Recovery Depends on Green and High Tech Jobs (With Videos, Photos)
Diane Denish, the Democratic candidate for New Mexico governor, held a press conference today in Albuquerque to announce her strategy and plans for creating high-tech and renewable energy jobs.
The press conference was held at the Silver Gardens workforce housing green apartments, an innovative yet affordable development that is applying for Platinum LEED certification and uses cutting-edge renewable technologies. Three-hundred New Mexicans were employed in the construction and development of Silver Gardens. (You can see how it turned out in some of the photos above.)
Diane started out discussing how creating jobs is a difficult task that takes intense concentration and a bold and creative approach -- and how her Republican opponent's sound bites and bullet points don't really cover what's needed.
Part 1 of Denish's comments
"Jobs: These aren't just a campaign issue -- they're the things that help everyone get up in the morning, put food on our table and send our kids to college. Today we're in the midst of a global economic slowdown not seen since our Great Depression, and we know that New Mexicans are really, really hurting.
"As a former small business owner, I know what it's like to hire somebody and to give them a job. And I also know what it's like to have to cut back, even for part-time workers that say they don't have enough hours, sometimes not paying myself just to keep the doors open. And I think it's that experience that taught me more than anything that what leaders need to be focused on is a real foundation for New Mexico jobs, for job creation to flourish right here in New Mexico.
"My opponent has offered a lot of sound bites and a few paragraphs about how she can create jobs, but I can tell you one thing -- it is much harder work than what she is saying. It's tougher and she knows that. It's hard work every single day and it will take intense work every day as Governor to make sure it happens. It will also take smart, bold, innovative ideas. That means taking advantage of our natural gifts to build a high-wage economy."
Denish then explained her two-pronged strategy for creating jobs and new industries:
"First, we have fantastic federal and higher education resources that we should take better advantage of. So I'm proposing that we start a new statewide high-tech development corporation -- Innovate New Mexico -- that will be modeled after other successful models around the country. It will provide financing, grants support technical systems basically turning ideas into jobs with the right technical support.
"Second, jobs from the sun, and from all other renewable resources that can put New Mexicans at the forefront of a a green jobs revolution."
Denish explained that she chose Silver Gardens for the press conference because "it epitomizes the green job economy that we're seeking to build." She add, "the pursuit of Platinum LEED certification for this project meant that hundreds of workers and many contractors "gained valuable experience right here at Silver Garden by installing green building materials."
Part 2 of Denish's comments
Denish then ran through the details that make up her jobs plan (see below), including how she intends to include the oil and gas industry -- saying she'll "promote and develop deep-source geothermal energy using spent oil and gas wells. Let's turn pump-jack jobs into geothermal jobs in New Mexico. Let's make the oil and gas industry part of the new energy revolution."
Denish commented on how she intends to approach the jobs challenge:
"So there are some people throughout this campaign who are gonna focus on tough times and think about all the things we can't do. Well I'm here to tell you that's not how I'm gonna operate. The toughest times demand the best leadership and innovative ideas to create the jobs we need, but more importantly, to set the stage for the future and what's gonna happen -- and that's the kind of governor I plan to be."
In response to a question about the wisdom of depending on solar and other green energy for jobs when those industries have been volatile, and whether Denish is convinced this is the way to go, Diane had this to say:
"I am convinced. It's no more volatile than the established oil and gas industry. We've seen prices go from $35 a barrel to $135 a barrel. In New Mexico we have to take advantage of our natural resources and our human resources, our human capital, that we have here. This is gonna be a part of not just our energy future but the country's energy future -- and we need to be part of it."
Seems like every candidate is talking about creating jobs this year, but Denish takes the talk to another level by going into detail about her plans on how to get there from here.
"These are difficult times and New Mexicans from all walks of life are hurting. That's why I believe the time is now for bold action to create jobs and give people hope for the future," Denish said. "Let my opponent focus on the past. I am going to be focused on the work that needs to be done to get New Mexicans back to work."
The Denish Plan for high-tech and green-job creation includes these elements:
- Innovate New Mexico: A statewide, high-tech development corporation focused on working with our federal labs and research universities to support the creation and marketing of tech-transfer spin-off companies.
- A state Clean Energy Investment Pool: By linking a portion of severance-tax revenue to incentives and programs for growing the clean-energy economy, we can target state capital to renewable-energy projects.
- Create centers of excellence for green-energy development based at our research universities. These centers of excellence will go hand-in-hand with the goals of Innovate New Mexico.
- Expand tax credits for clean energy companies: Increase the Industry Research and Development Tax Credit to 10% for clean technology businesses and offer favorable tax treatment to startup founders to encourage them to stay in New Mexico.
- Fight for the expansion of special assessment districts for renewable energy. I will take on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make sure this innovative program, which puts renewable energy directly into the hands of average homeowners, remains a viable green-job engine.
- Support the creation of a green-job business incubator.
- Encourage the conversion of government car fleets to high-efficiency vehicles and natural-gas.
- Ensure all new state buildings meet green standards, expand renovation of existing buildings and put all government utility bills online for the public to inspect.
- Invest and bond for renewable energy transmission capacity so that New Mexico can sell its renewable power to other states.
- Promote and develop deep-source geothermal energy using spent oil and gas wells. This new effort would be a great way to engage oil and gas companies in the green energy revolution and create jobs in the oil patch.
Click to read the entire Denish Plan.
All photos and video by M.E. Broderick.
NM Supreme Court Denies BCBS Request to Stop Hearing on Premium Rate Increase
Chalk up another one for folks insured under individual policies with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico’s (BCBSNM) -- at least for now. An evidentiary hearing on BCBSNM's double-digit insurance premium rate increase will proceed as planned after the New Mexico Supreme Court denied the company’s petition for a Writ of Mandamus on Wednesday. A statement released yesterday by the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) explains what happened and what comes next.
The petition -- filed last month by BCBSNM -- requested that the Supreme Court prohibit the Superintendent of Insurance from proceeding with the planned evidentiary hearing regarding BCBSNM’s requested 21.3% insurance premium rate increase. The hearing was scheduled last month when interim Superintendent of Insurance Johnny L. Montoya issued an order suspending the April 26 settlement agreement brokered among the Division of Insurance staff, BCBSNM, the Attorney General’s Office and aggrieved party, Jody Neal-Post.
That agreement established a 21.3% rate increase for an estimated 40,000 BCBSNM individual plan customers. Montoya, however, opted to suspend the settlement agreement in order to ensure that the rates are justified and to bring much-needed transparency to the process.
“Because this increase coincides with very challenging financial times for nearly every New Mexican, it’s prudent for the Insurance Division and the citizens of this state to know exactly why such rates are warranted,” Montoya said after issuing his June 22 order suspending the settlement.
BCBSNM’s petition to the Supreme Court was filed shortly after Montoya decided to suspend the agreement.
Responding to the company’s request for the Writ, the Superintendent’s office and the New Mexico Attorney General’s office argued that the issuance of the Writ was inappropriate. On Wednesday, the court agreed and denied the petition. The Insurance Division was represented by Insurance Division Chief Legal Counsel David Barton while the AG’s office was represented by AG Gary King.
As a result of Wednesday’s decision, the evidentiary hearing is scheduled to proceed as planned. That hearing is set to commence at 9 AM on Wednesday, Aug. 25, in Apodaca Hall on the second floor of the PERA Building, 1120 Paseo de Peralta.
At the hearing, NMPRC staff will present an overview of how it reached its decision to approve the original rate increase request and BCBSNM representatives are expected to produce evidence and testimony to justify the 21.3% increases. The public is encouraged to attend the evidentiary hearing; written and oral public comment will be taken during the hearing.
Richardson and Schwarzenegger to Co-Host Border Governors Conference in Santa Fe
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger officially announced yesterday that they will co-host an interim meeting of the Border Governors Conference on September 19-20th in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The agenda for the one-and-a-half day meeting will focus on the key issues of border security, economic development and energy. The meeting will bridge the gap between last year’s conference in Nuevo Leon and next year’s meeting in Baja California, as this year’s conference in Arizona was cancelled by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.
“We strongly believe in the work of the Border Governors Conference and consider it vital to continue the progress made by the Conference,” stated Governors Richardson and Schwarzenegger in a joint invitation to the members of the Border Governors Conference. “As border governors, we see the impact of border issues like security, economic development, and energy issues every day. While we may not always agree on every issue, as leaders of the U.S./Mexico border region we must maintain a strong dialogue to help assure cooperation along the border, resolve regional border issues, and make sure bi-national issues are given proper attention by our federal governments.”
The cost for the meeting will be split between Governors Richardson and Schwarzenegger with the bulk of the monetary support coming from private sponsors.
A joint statement released by Governors Richardson and Schwarzenegger said that every member of the Border Governors Conference is invited to the interim meeting, including the Mexican states of Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, as well as the U.S. states of Arizona and Texas. The two Governors are also inviting senior representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, State Department, Health and Human Services, and Department of Commerce and their Mexican counterparts. The U.S. Ambassador to Mexico and Mexican Ambassador to the United States are also formally invited to the meeting.
The ten Border States represent a joint economy that ranks third in the world. The Border Governors Conference consists of six Mexican and four U.S. Border states. This long-standing conference allows vital regional and state to state dialogue. With 42 different ports of entry, the region also represents one of the most dynamic trade and border crossing regions in the world.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Richardson Orders Temporary Trapping Ban to Protect Mexican Gray Wolf
Governor Bill Richardson today ordered a six-month ban on trapping in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in an effort to protect the Mexican Gray Wolves that have been reintroduced to the New Mexico portion of the Gila and Apache National Forests. The governor signed an Executive Order (pdf) today, directing the ban.
Richardson directed the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish to initiate the temporary trapping ban, while it conducts a study on trapping to determine the level of risk to the Mexican Gray Wolf associated with the various traps and snares.
“The indiscriminate traps and snares in the Recovery Area are harming efforts to reintroduce the Mexican Gray Wolf to its native habitat,” Governor Richardson in a written statement. “I am ordering this temporary ban to protect the wolves and increase the likelihood for the wolves to survive and flourish.”
Susana Martinez: Talks the Talk on Ethics and Spending But Record Doesn't Match
We've all noticed by now that Susana Martinez, the Republican candidate for New Mexico governor, likes to talk about ethics, crime and government spending -- at least in general terms. In fact, those bullet points pretty much constitute her entire schtick so far in the campaign. Cut spending, cut taxes, "get tough" on crime, corruption, immigration. She seems to pride herself on creating a public persona that suggests she's one tough cookie ... why, she even carries a handgun and makes sure that's known.
And if you listen to enough Susana sound bites, you just might think the prosecutor really, really enjoys fantasizing about tossing targeted folks in jail and throwing away the keys -- although it's unclear how she'd pay for all that. And she's apparently not too hot on the innocent until proven guilty thing either. In Susana's world, when she proclaims that someone is guilty of crimes and corruption -- they are.
Always short on policy details, Susana has a tendency to skip over the truthiness stuff and instead raise her voice to rebuke, accuse and threaten to bring down the law on ... well .. all the people she personally deems to be "bad." You might say she has a punishing personality in public. Her campaign consultants must have told her that sells.
Susana is fond of talking as if anybody who's not a right-wing Republican is crooked. They're corrupt. They're all suspect. They're all bad. Because she says so. She likes to paint others broadly with her BS brush -- while painting herself as a pure-as-the-driven-snow reformer. She's very fond of using those bumpersticker talking points that right wingers are so good at parroting, and parroting and parroting, with little to back them up. I guess the idea is to repeat something so often it seems like a fact. Even when it's not. That way, you don't have to talk about substance -- you know, the devil's-in-the-details type stuff that's needed to govern effectively. Like how, exactly, you're going to create any jobs. Or what, exactly, you plan to cut.
Stones and Glass Houses
Well, here's a little hint for Susana: It might be prudent to take a step back and stop throwing stones. It's not a safe practice when you live in a house made of glass. For instance, Martinez called a press conference today that highlighted protecting the taxpayers’ dime and campaign finance reform, two areas where she has failed miserably. Yes, she really did.
Chris Cervini, spokesman for the Diane Denish campaign, explained it this way in a statement released today: “Anyone who’s been paying attention knows that Diane Denish has been a leader in the fight for ethics reform. She signed the Sunshine Portal to put the state's checkbook online, took on her own party to reform the State Housing Authorities and increased campaign finance reporting requirements."
"We’re not going to take any lectures on ethics from someone who took $450,000 from the Texas multi-millionaire that funded the disgraceful Swift Boat Veterans ads," Cervini continued. "From buying iPods with taxpayer money to spending tens of thousands on fancy office furniture, Susana Martinez should look at her own conduct before attacking someone else’s character.”
Yes, it's a fact that Susana Martinez took $450,000 from Texas multi-millionaire Swift Boat funder Bob Perry and his wife during the primary. You may recall that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ran a despicable campaign questioning the patriotism and service of John Kerry. Is that the kind of ethical behavior she's talking about?
Then There's Diane
Meanwhile, Diane Denish rolled out a comprehensive ethics reform plan LAST YEAR, which included the creation of a non-partisan, independent Ethics Commission. She's not suddenly talking about issues like ethics reform as the time until election day ticks down to under 100 days.
Denish has also announced a plan to save taxpayers $450 million over five years through smart reforms and consolidations, including cutting political appointees, eliminating Cabinet positions and consolidating 100 boards and commissions.
Susana's Suspect Spending
In contrast, here are some sterling examples of Susana Martinez's irresponsible spending in just the past three years in the DA's office she runs:
- Over $120,000 on six new cars in two years
- $60,000 on luxury furniture in just three years for her office
- Over $1,000 In late fees for past-due bills
- $760 on Starfish clocks for employees
- $643.57 on Apple Ipod Nano’s, and even paid extra for overnight and 2 day shipping
When Susana talks about cutting government expenditures, I guess she thinks foolish spending in her own bailiwick is off limits. She's special, oh so special -- in that big white hat, rounding up those varmints. Sadly, the rules she harps about apparently don't apply to her. That's usually called hypocrisy. It fits, don't you think?
Stephen Jones: United States Constitution 1, Arizona Zero
This is a post by contributing writer, Stephen Jones, who is a progressive political activist and a resident of Las Cruces, New Mexico.
For all of the spin we are likely to hear from politicians and their media spokespeople on the Cable TV outlets in the next few days, when the dust settles U.S. District Court Judge Bolton’s preliminary injunction (pdf) against the state of Arizona should be seen for what it is, the first step in wiping away the Grand Canyon state’s racist profiling law, S.B. 1070. For all intents and purposes most of Arizona’s illegitimate state legislation has fallen in its first Constitutional test. It seems destined to continue to do so.
Although the Justice Department and the Obama Administration were initially tardy in acting against Arizona, by attempting to negotiate with Arizona rather than immediately moving to block the S.B. 1070, Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department are to be commended for finally doing the right thing and bringing this sorry chapter to a close. On Wednesday, Judge Bolton acted correctly in blocking the statute. S.B. 1070 is a violation of the 1st, 4th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, along with Article I and Article VI.
Judge Bolton's Ruling
Blocked are all of the provisions of the law that would have led to racial profiling; and the requirement placed on local law enforcement to stop and demand proof of citizenship from those persons who they perceive to be in the United States “illegally.” Judge Bolton blocked the provisions of the statute that made it a crime for aliens to apply for or carry “alien registration papers.” She blocked the portions of the law that would jail American citizens for associating with non-citizens, and she blocked the provision that criminalizes the solicitation for work.
Other misguided provisions of the law that were blocked were the ability of individual citizens to sue police officers who they believed to be failing to enforce the statute or the power of police to issue a warrantless arrest of a person “where there is probable cause to believe they are ... removable from the United States.”
Judge Bolton also stated in her ruling, “The [p]ower to regulate immigration is unquestionably exclusively a federal power.” In other words, the Judge found that Federal immigration statute enforced under the supremacy clause of Article VI is the operative law that governs immigration in the United States, including the State of Arizona. The supremacy clause binds individual states to follow Federal statutes.
Left standing were provisions of the Arizona statute that say law enforcement must comply with Federal statute, and that part of the law that establishes a state misdemeanor for harboring and transporting illegal immigrants. These provisions are permitted under current Federal immigration law.
Devastating Loss for GOP Gov. Brewer
While Arizona Governor Jan Brewer termed Judge Bolton’s ruling “a bump in the road,” in reality the “bump in the road” is a sweeping chasm.
Governor Brewer’s attempt at putting on a game-face aside, Judge Bolton’s ruling is a hammer blow at the illegal portions of Arizona’s attempted statute, and a near total loss for Brewer. Avenues left open to Governor Brewer and the Republican-led legislature of the State of Arizona are the judicial appeal process, which is likely, or the highly unlikely scenario in which the U. S. Congress would amend, and President Obama would sign, a statute amending current immigration law to accommodate Arizona’s S.B. 1070.
A Win for the U.S. Constitution
The Judge is to be commended for following the U.S. Constitution. No doubt her ruling will be appealed and the final resolution be found at the U.S. Supreme Court and, ultimately, in a Federal immigration reform statute.
State jurisdiction under the law is unaffected. Contrary to what Governor Brewer and the Republican Party would have us believe, the current Federal statute allows states to pass legislation that enforces Federal immigration statutes. Thirty four states currently have their own statutes governing immigration enforcement issues. What collapsed on Wednesday was an onerous, racist and unconstitutional statute. Also blocked, in all likelihood, are copycat laws working their way through the legislatures of Utah and other states.
The United States Constitution won on Wednesday. Arizona lost. Any who mistakenly believe some higher court will change the result are deluding themselves. Judge Bolton's 36-page ruling is sound.
Enact Comprehensive Immigration Reform Now
The time is now for the members of Congress to put demagogy aside and get to work and enact a new comprehensive immigration reform statute that governs the whole United States with fairness. We, as Americans, do not need racist state statutes and political fear mongering. We need real long-lasting and workable solutions to the ongoing immigration issues facing the United States. Let the negotiations begin.