The U.S. Constitution Again Prevails Against Another Arizona Assault

Why is it so hard for so many people to grasp the concept of the US Constitution? What if the citizens of a state passed, by a significantly large margin, an initiative that said that it was illegal for any person to have in his possession, at any time or in any location within the state, a handgun? Would gun enthusiasts, would gun activists, would representatives of the nra say that the will of the people has been heard, and that the courts should not thwart the will of the people and overturn that new law, just because of that little thing known as the second amendment?

If the voters of a state overwhelmingly voted in favor of making the Baptist religion that state’s official religion, and prohibited any followers of any other religion from holding

state government office or from being employed by the government would members of other religions or would the American Civil Liberties Union say the people have spoken, and that is now the law, irrespective of the first amendment?

Hardly, in either instance.

But, in the state of Arizona, they have passed numerous laws over the years, including some passed through the initiative process and a vote of the people, that clearly have been egregiously violative of various amendments to the US Constitution. One such example was 2006’s Prop 100, passed by a whopping 80% of voters, that prohibited bail for people in the US illegally and who were accused of committing serious crimes. A legal challenge first resulted in a US District Court and then a three-judge panel of the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals each upholding the law, with that appeal decided by a two-to-one vote. Now, the Ninth Circuit sitting en banc has overturned the prior decision, by a vote of 11-2. The two votes to uphold the law came from republican Justice Richard C. Tallman, who had been one of the two in the 2-1 earlier decision, and from Justice Diarmuid O’Scannlain, who I have written about before, and who has been to the Ninth Circuit what Clarence Thomas has been to the US Supreme Court, a far-right reactionary voice, who cares little for the law and who decides cases based on his personal political and religious views.

Terracotta Composting 50-Plant Garden Tower by Garden Tower Project
As an aside, an element in the decision was the fact that the law had been used throughout Arizona to keep undocumented people in custody without bail not just for allegations of serious felonies, as the law was written, but also for very minor crimes, including, as cited in the opinion (Angel Lopez-Valenzuela v Arpaio, D.C. No. 2:08-cv-00660-
SRB), such things as altering a lottery ticket and for improperly copying sound recordings.

So what has been the response to the striking down of Prop 100 as an unconstitutional violation of the 14th amendment of the US Constitution? Well, the right-hand lackey of long-time racist, fascist Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a defendant in this case, one Deputy Chief Jack MacIntyre, has been the point man with the media, and he has said that the Ninth Circuit has undermined the will of Arizona’s voters:

“It’s unfortunate that apparently the 9th Circuit is substituting themselves as some sort of a super legislature for the Legislature and voters in Arizona.”

Those are the words of every reactionary right wing demagogue who only acknowledges the parts of the Constitution that they like, or that they can reinterpret to mean something far different than what was originally meant, the shinning example of which is their ignoring the first clause of the second amendment, that little part that modifies the “right to bear arms” to apply ONLY to a militia.

How dare those activist, quasi-legislative judges strike down a law passed by such a large margin of Arizona voters, just because it’s unconstitutional. How DARE they! Because THAT is their job – to uphold the Constitution.

About theHoundDawg

For many years as a lawyer, I saw much of the good and bad of society, and did what I could to right many wrongs. The lack of understanding of what is good and bad, right and wrong, just and unjust, as evidenced by such events as the election of King W as president, (who as such far surpassed the evil of richard nixon but not quite that of ronald reagan) lead me in a new direction, to spend my time trying to understand what is happening to our society, to try as best I can to spread my insights to others, and along the way to maybe even eke out a living through the internet.
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