Linda Greenhouse, the Times former Supreme Court reporter, now writes a twice-monthly column for nytimes.com. But the paper's editors must have found her latest rant on Arizona's tough new immigration law particularly powerful, because it made it into Tuesday's print edition: "Breathing While Undocumented."
Greenhouse, who caused controversy while still a Times reporter when she made her hard-left views on abortion and Guantanamo Bay public at a Harvard commencement address in the summer of 2006, really let it out on Tuesday, with visions of police states and a seemingly inevitable comparison to Nazism.
I'm glad I've already seen the Grand Canyon.
Because I'm not going back to Arizona as long as it remains a police state, which is what the appalling anti-immigrant bill that Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law last week has turned it into.
What would Arizona's revered libertarian icon, Barry Goldwater, say about a law that requires the police to demand proof of legal residency from any person with whom they have made "any lawful contact" and about whom they have "reasonable suspicion" that "the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States?" Wasn't the system of internal passports one of the most distasteful features of life in the Soviet Union and apartheid-era South Africa?
Greenhouse summarized the recent history of "anti-immigrant spasms" and recommended the federal government get involved in Arizona:
Indeed, federal pre-emption would appear to be the most promising route for attacking the Arizona law. Supreme Court precedents make clear that immigration is a federal matter and that the Constitution does not authorize the states to conduct their own foreign policies.
My confidence about the law's fate in the court's hands is not boundless, however. In 1982, hours after the court decided the Texas case, a young assistant to Attorney General William French Smith analyzed the decision and complained in a memo: "This is a case in which our supposed litigation program to encourage judicial restraint did not get off the ground, and should have." That memo's author was John G. Roberts Jr.
After introducing the "police state" at the beginning, Greenhouse fires that gun in the third act, bringing up, naturally, the Nazis:
So what to do in the meantime? Here's a modest proposal. Everyone remembers the wartime Danish king who drove through Copenhagen wearing a Star of David in support of his Jewish subjects. It's an apocryphal story, actually, but an inspiring one. Let the good people of Arizona - and anyone passing through - walk the streets of Tucson and Phoenix wearing buttons that say: I Could Be Illegal.
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