Here's another reason to block Arizona's insanely broad and eminently abusable immigration law: 20 other states think it'd look nice on their books. (Really, Idaho and Nebraska and Michigan and Minnesota? Your immigration problems are so serious that you need to pass a law that mandates racial profiling?)
Today, the Daily Caller has a profile of Susan Bolton, the federal judge who is the last stop between the law and its implementation in nine days.
Experts say it's hard to tell which way she'll go.
She was appointed to the federal bench by Clinton (hopeful) but was recommended by Republican Senator Jon Kyl (not so hopeful). State Republicans have called her an "activist judge" (hopeful). But she has granted immunity to Border Patrol officers in the past, protecting them from being sued for harassing Hispanic-American citizens because of their appearance (not so hopeful). She's listed as an Independent, her voting records are sealed, and state Democrats say she's not predictable or politically reliable (in most cases a virtue, in this one a little nerve-wracking).
As the Caller's profile points out, the stakes are high, even higher than immigration—if she doesn't block the law (that is, if she lets Arizona take on something that should be the responsibility of the federal government), it opens a can of states'-rights rattlesnakes.
Bolton has ruled in two cases unrelated to immigration that federal law trumps state law.
In 2008, Bolton threw out a claim by a woman who alleged her employer broke a federal law on overtime pay. The woman made the claim under federal law but sought more generous damages under a state law dictating when an employee is to be paid. The judge threw out her claim under state law.
Three years earlier, in a lawsuit from a woman who claimed she was harmed by taking a cold medicine, Bolton ruled that a state law immunizing drug makers from most punitive damages in product liability cases was superseded by federal law.
And here's a peek inside the courtroom from California Progress Report:
Bolton asked questions that illustrated the complexity of the Arizona law in the larger context of national immigration policies.
The plaintiffs in this case are police officer David Salgado and a non-profit organization, Chicanos Por la Causa, which serves the Latino and immigrant community and administers several charter schools.
Bolton questioned attorney Stephen Montoya as to whether his client, Salgado of the Phoenix Police Department, had legal standing to bring the suit. To have the right to initiate the lawsuit, he must be sufficiently affected by the issue.
“There is no question that if officer Salgado does not enforce this law on the 29th, if it goes into effect, he can be disciplined or he can be fired," Montoya responded.
Salgado argues that SB 1070 puts him in the difficult situation of either violating the Constitution by engaging in racial profiling, or facing lawsuits from citizens for not enforcing the law.
“He has a federal right not to discriminate against minorities and he believes this statute requires exactly that,” said Montoya.
John Bouma, the legal counsel for the state, dismissed those claims, saying that Salgado did not have standing and that the argument that "anybody can be sued anytime" was not sufficient to demonstrate how the law would harm him. He added that most lawsuits would likely be brought against the law enforcement agency he works for if the law is not enforced properly.
The next hearings are on Thursday, when Bolton will hear arguments in two lawsuits (from a total of seven filed to stop 1070): one from the US Department of Justice, the other from the ACLU and others.
And, of course, political hams of all flavors aren't sleeping on the chance to flap around and squawk: