Defending the Indefensible
That’s what Byron York thinks is the job of the Obama administration’s solicitor general, Donald Verrilli. First it was ObamaCare, now it’s the Arizona illegal immigrant laws. John Hinderaker notes some of the disconnects that Mr. Verrilli is desperately trying to connect.
Justice Sotomayor was commenting here on an extraordinary aspect of the Obama administration’s position, to the effect that it is OK if individual Arizona law enforcement officers decide to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, but if the state directs them all to cooperate, it is somehow unconstitutional. The Obama administration literally argued that for a state to engage in “systematic cooperation” with the federal government on immigration is unlawful. We can’t blame Mr. Verrilli for his inability to sell that bizarre argument. We do blame Barack Obama and Eric Holder for trying to assert it.
Of course, what is going on here is that the Obama administration doesn’t want to enforce the immigration laws that Congress has enacted. The essence of its position in the Arizona case is that the federal government has the right to decide not to enforce the law, and if it so decides, then no state has the power, under the Constitution, to do anything that would tend to enforce those federal laws. So if the Obama administration decides that it will gain political advantage by ignoring federal laws against illegal immigration, states like Arizona just have to take the consequences without complaining.
Mr. Verrilli has to twist himself in knots to try to defend the indefensible; a government that chooses which laws to enforce and which to ignore, and which want to force states to tow their particular line. The states will have none of that, and this case will determine whether the federal government can, indeed, actually legislate by ignoring laws it doesn’t like.
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