In Ohio, where I live part-time, the state’s Supreme Court has just upheld a traffic court conviction for speeding based solely on the cop’s eyeball guess of the driver’s speed, now institutionalizing a change in law. Radar guns are no longer needed. Officers are now encouraged to issue speeding tickets based only on their opinion of how fast the car is moving. If it looks like you’re going too fast, by as little as one MPH, that’s good enough. You are guilty.
It’s easy to discredit this. Ask a cop to guess the speed of a passing red Corvette, dull gray mini-van, and UPS delivery van that are, in reality all carefully going precisely the same speed, what would you like to bet he pegs the red sports car as going faster than the mini-van or UPS truck? Of course, if he happens to be a racist, he might just think a car driven by a black guy is going faster than a car driven by a white guy.
In Arizona, where I lived for quite a while and wouldn’t endanger my life by living now, its state legislature has passed a law that validates existent federal law, that makes it illegal to be there illegally as an illegal immigrant (ie. criminal), but still only allows police officers to inquire about citizenship status in situations in which the person has already been stopped or engaged for some other reason. Even then, the officer must have “reasonable suspicion” the person he stopped for some other reason may also be here illegally. This same law has specific prohibition of racial or ethnic profiling.
About this law, President Obama has set himself afire, vilified the very fed up legal citizens of Arizona as well as their elected officials, threatened to sic his Justice Department on the governor, all based on his insistence that police officers in Arizona cannot be trusted to administer this law correctly. They will be tempted, he says, to use it as means of unfairly discriminating and harassing certain citizens and non-citizens.
So far, the president is mute about the Ohio law.
The Arizona law he is so offended by threatens to unjustly treat only a small percentage of the state’s population. The Ohio law he has not mentioned, let alone threatened to rush in and overturn, imperils all citizens – plus offers comparable opportunity for mis-use and abuse as he fears Arizona’s does.
In objecting to Arizona’s law, he presumes evil intent and abuse – or at the very least incompetence – on the part of law enforcement officers (not a new conclusion for Obama; recall the Cambridge police acting “stupidly?”) If, as the evidence suggests, Obama presumes that police officers in general can’t be trusted to apply laws correctly and without abuse, he should be directing his ire at Ohio as well.
Further, the Ohio law obviously, outrageously turns the innocent-until-proven-guilty protection on its head. The Arizona law is much narrower and more cautious. It does not, for example, permit a law enforcement officer to determine someone is an illegal immigrant just based on his best guess about the subject’s immigration status. If the President wishes to excoriate a state, its legislature, its governor, its state law, he’d have far more justification with this idiocy in Ohio than the measures of desperation in Arizona.
But Ohio’s governor is a Democrat and Arizona’s is a Republican, and not intimidated. And the Arizona law impacts a demographic that liberals see as natural Democrat voters, just as soon as they can grant them amnesty and citizenship.
Meddling in states’ rights is slippery slope. The U.S. Supreme Court is constitutionally charged with doing it to a limited degree. The president isn’t invited. But if he is going to invite himself in, fairness dictates he find an objectionable law unique to each state. For that matter, in every county, city, burb and burg, school board, school. Why not pick one in every locale, make a master list, organize a Presidential Task Force, and with an even hand and simultaneous assault, correct injustice far and wide?
Maybe the media could help. Instead of it joining the president in his assault on Arizona, They should undertake a state-by-state investigation and compilation of laws that might enable police abuses or otherwise be unfairly applied. They could gift the entire catalog of individual states’ offensive laws, rules and practices to Obama for him to fix.