Last week a Department of Justice led by Attorney General Eric Holder mounted an attack so lame in front of the Supreme Court against Arizona’s anti-immigrant, anti-HispanicLatino law known as S.B.1070 that even first-time observers realized how thoroughly DOJ had been routed. Obama’s lawyers cratered in a case of existential importance to HispanicLatinos, who should be thankful that Obama’s lawyers later this year will not handle the challenge before the same Court to the minority-friendly college admissions policies of the University of Texas – meaning those of all of the nation’s colleges and universities.
HispanicLatinos should not be happy about last week’s unmitigated disaster if the Court affirms any part of 1070 in June. Any HispanicLatino citizens who think they are exempt from its ramifications have a surprise waiting for them. As surprised might be President Obama in November.
Most legal experts presume that last week’s faux attempt at lawyering by DOJ will cause the Court to endorse at least part of the Arizona law that targets individuals based on color, race, ethnicity and sound of speech on the mere supposition that they might be in the country illegally. My fear – and I so hope I am wrong – is that local governments will rush to propose and enact ordinances against defenseless local immigrant and HispanicLatino populations. Imagine the likes of hundreds of “Americans” like Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona running wild in every state.
The damage the Supreme Court inflicted on the country with its wrong-headed ruling in Citizens United should be evident enough even to its most ardent proponents, except for the columnist George Will, of course. The justices, with the likes of Will pulling at the floodgates, enabled multi-billionaires to pour millions of dollars into a presidential campaign that demonstrates how unceremoniously and crudely Citizens usurps the constitutional intent that the vote of any one individual is no more equal than the next.
Now come the warning signs that the court is going to undo programs that seek to increase the number of minority students in institutions of higher education. The court has accepted for review a case involving The University of Texas at Austin that five justices will use almost undoubtedly to roll back so-called affirmative action programs.
Years ago, when I was an editor at The Austin American-Statesman, I had to decide whether to run George Will, the conservative columnist at The Washington Post, on a regular basis to balance the pages with perspectives from the left and the right.
I had admired Will’s writing but more and more I had to force myself to read him – still do. My struggle began many years before with a piece that suggested to me that he fundamentally misunderstood where the country was headed. Will had written at the height of the Reagan Revolution – I’m paraphrasing – that the country had entered a conservative era that would last for generations.