I asked the Department of Justice to explain the administration's scruples on Arizona-versus-sanctuary-cities to me in 2010. A spokeswoman replied: "There's a difference between a state or locality saying they are not going to use their resources to enforce a federal law, as so-called sanctuary cities have done, and a state passing its own immigration policy that actively interferes with federal law. That's what Arizona did in this case, and we believe it is an unconstitutional interference with the federal government's prerogative to set and enforce immigration policy."
Or, in this case, not enforce immigration policy. Clearly, the president objects only when states seek to bolster immigration law, not flout it.
As dissenting justice Antonin Scalia reasoned, "the sale of illegal drugs, for example, ordinarily violates state law as well as federal law, and no one thinks that the state penalties cannot exceed the federal."
Now, there is a case to be made for the argument that letting states enforce federal law can, as Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority, "undermine federal law." But it's a case best made by those able to ignore the administration's selective umbrage. What Obama is really saying: "Move over, Arizona. Only I have the right to undermine federal law."
Email Debra J. Saunders at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Debra J. Saunders, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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