United States v. Arizona

Today, Attorney General Eric Holder, on behalf of the Obama administration, filed the long promised suit against Arizona seeking to have the new Arizona immigration law declared unconstitutional.  The suit was filed in Federal District Court in Phoenix.

According to the law suit, the Arizona law violates the “Supremacy Clause” of the Constitution.  Should you be interested, you can find this in Article VI…

The Constitution and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof…shall be the supreme law of the land…any thing in the…laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

The administration claims that because Congress has passed laws dealing with immigration, those federal laws take precedence over any immigration law passed by Arizona (or any other state, for that matter). 

What is curious, however, is that no where in the suit is there any mention of “racial profiling”, due process, equal protection, or any other of the list of “problems” members of the administration have used in “speeches” denouncing the law.

As best I can tell, all Arizona wanted in passing the law was for its borders to be protected…clearly a job of the federal government, but clearly a job the federal government has refused to do.  This administration ceased construction on the border fence, and has repeatedly ignored Arizona’s pleas for more border security. 

So, it would appear that the government’s only response to a “broken immigration system”, as Obama has called it, is to file a lawsuit against one of the states.  Personally, I think that time and money would be better spent enforcing our immigration laws.  But, then again, that’s just me.

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The Sound Off Sister was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and special trial attorney for the Department of Justice, Criminal Division; a partner in the Florida law firm of Shutts & Bowen, and an adjunct professor at the University of Miami, School of Law. The Sound Off Sister offers frequent commentary concerning legislation making its way through Congress, including the health reform legislation passed in early 2010.


  1. winnie888 on July 6, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    I'm just ITCHIN' to see how this turns out…Personally, I think it's gonna come back to bite obama in the butt, but that could just be my enthusiasm run amok.  Time will tell, however…

  2. Dimsdale on July 6, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    The supremacy of the federal laws is not what is being challenged, just the failure of the government to enforce and prosecute them.  If the AZ law is essentially a rewrite of the federal law, then Justice will have a difficult time defending what is already a gossamer case.  It is in AZ's favor that they have asked the feds REPEATEDLY to do their jobs, and they have failed on every count.


    If anything, I would think and hope that this case will do the opposite of what Øbama wants and illuminate the huge problem they have down there.  A problem coming to a neighborhood near you!

  3. cpusavant on July 6, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    I am confused as to how Obama and Holder think the AZ law contradicts the federal law. As I understand it, the supremacy clause basically means that if federal law and state law conflict, federal law trumps state. But there seems to be no conflict between federal immigration law and the AZ law. The AZ law just makes illegal immigration a state crime too. I honestly can't wait for this to get to the Supremes. Then maybe Obama and Holder will see how illogical their sense of law and justice can be.

  4. Law-AbidingCitizen on July 7, 2010 at 2:37 am

    So, obama is going to air his dirty laundry our for all to see.

    interesting, very interesting . . .

  5. TomL on July 7, 2010 at 4:18 am

    I would love to see Arizona file a suit claiming selective enforcement. California has completed their fence and it has reduced illegals and crime. California leans far left and Arizona leans right so they suffer. Arizona has 80 miles of border controlled by the drug cartels and smugglers and US citizens are warned to stay out. When this country was being settled they would send in The Texas Rangers to combat lawlessness. I have to go into airports and marine ports all the time to pick up and deliver freight and have several biometric cards(I had extensive background checks by TSA & Homeland Security) that have computer chips in them with my life history and fingerprints imbedded so that they know who I am. If I want to earn a living in my chosen field that's what I have to do so I see know reason why anyone wanting to cross our borders shouldn't be required to do the same. Secure the borders first and then pass and implement a well thought out immigration bill.

  6. sammy22 on July 7, 2010 at 6:10 am

    So why don't we all have biometric cards? Would that stop people from coming across the AZ border? Europe is awash with illegal immigrants, many of whom cross the Mediterranean Sea to get to land, not just the Rio Grande.

    • Dimsdale on July 7, 2010 at 5:15 pm

      Why do we need more documentation to throw out people with none?  They already lack the docs necessary to live here legally.  Forget biometric cards and bar codes on the back of the neck.  Just dip repeat transgressors in permanent blue ink for easy identification.


      The solution is easy, but the will is not there.  In both parties.  Pick 'em up and pack them out.

  7. Tbone McGraw on July 7, 2010 at 6:40 am

    O.K.  the regime has decided to go after a state? So, it gets me to thinking about the things the regime has decided to "Go After" – Arizona, A "White" Police Officer in Cambridge MA, Our "Health-care" (it does need some actual changes,but not their takeover), Tea Parties – You know they wave their "Tea Bags Around", Tax Payers through "Stimulus" take overs, Car Companies (then turn them over to the unions), Banks, The Private sector in general etc…

    In fairness I think it's important to list the things he won't "Go After" – Boarder Control, America's Enemies (Don't you dare call them Muslim Extremist/Terrorists you may offend them), The Black Panther Party Thugs, Over Inflated Union  Pensions. Need I continue?

    You decide…Is this the change you thought we were getting? In five months we can vote for change again, this time I pray it's with open eyes and minds not clouded with Mystical Euphoria…

  8. PatRiot on July 7, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Unfortunately, this isn't about illegals or border protection (the crises).  It is about stomping on state sovereignty.  And if they make an example of Arizona, the rest of the states will cow when their own manufactured crisis or condition arises.  Hmmm…Is McCain's (R-AZ) voice hoarse from screaming for help?  Did Dodd or Lieberman scream when eminent domain was misused in CT?  Many of the states have enough spineless politicians to support this effort.

    I am not sure how, but we the people must act, and before November. 

    We are used to being spectators, but it is not a good time for that now.

    Hey, where do I buy products made from certified "illegal free" Arizona companies?

  9. PatRiot on July 7, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    The current administration is trying to bank on the federal laws acutally being Constitutional – imagine that!  And which ones are they?  And does AZ law comply?  And isn't the AZ law affrimation of an existing law anyway – that was just okey dokey until now.

    To get to article VI, you have to read Article IV, Section 4. "The United States shall protect each of them (states) against invasion…and against domestic violence."

    Meanwhile, back at Article VI – "The Senators and Representatives…shall be bound by oath…to support this Constitution."

    This isn't some legal definition parsing, we are talking about lives and the Constitution.

    • Dimsdale on July 8, 2010 at 6:55 am

      Too bad all Øbambi is talking about is grabbing power and getting reelected.

  10. rickyrock on July 8, 2010 at 8:00 am

    The state should be allowed to use whatever means necessary to secure its borders.Further, laws should be enacted that provide for severe penalties for any business hiring these people..you need to curb demand which in turn will diminish supply. If you allow businesses to hire these illegals you exacerbate the problem.As far as amnesty is concerned in 1986 Regan gave amnesty to over 3,000,000 illegals unfortunately the provisions for employer sanctions for hiring the illegals was stripped from the bill rendering it ineffective.We need to stop the Afghan and Iraq wars put those soldiers on the borders and fine severely employers that hire them.

    • Dimsdale on July 9, 2010 at 5:43 pm

      Well spoken, ricky!

  11. sammy22 on July 9, 2010 at 3:32 am

    Way to go rickyrock. Too bad neither Reps nor Dems want to do both things (and neither do most of the people posting here). A one sided fix will not solve anything, just as it happened w/ Reagan. 

    • Dimsdale on July 9, 2010 at 5:47 pm

      I agree.  It is "them" against "us", politicians vs. citizens.  We need to put the "representative" back into representative government, and the citizen back into the mainstream of politics.  Term limits and zero benefits would be a good start.  Congress is too removed from reality.

  12. Dimsdale on July 9, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Ever get the feeling that the lawyers in the DOJ were taught by Instructor Øbama?

  13. JollyRoger on July 10, 2010 at 3:41 am

    AZ needs predator drones and snipers with 50 cal rifles.  If illegals see their "coyote's" head explode, they'd be heading back to their homeland before they even heard the actual shot.  But we Americans are so wimpy that we sit down and shut up when the left tells us we're out-of-line for asking whether Barry's got a birth cert…  My father was an immigrant, and he pulled every trick in the book.  And if he could have created some paper-trail that somehow implied that he was born in US territory, he would have.  And I guarran-damn-tee you that if Barry's mother popped him out in Kenya, she'd be do whatever she could to claim his American citizenship.  Why? There's a major hospital in Mombasa where there was only one working toilet for the entire O.R. staff.  It was in the women's locker room, no need to knock, and it could only be flushed when the tide was out.  There were animals and bugs in the OR rooms, and the sterilizers didn't work…  And this was just a few years ago

    • Dimsdale on July 10, 2010 at 6:55 am

      I was thinking or a double wall with a minefield in between.  And lots of signs saying so.  Bilingual signs of course (gotta be PC!).

  14. sammy22 on July 11, 2010 at 4:46 am

    As I recall, not even the Berlin Wall (or the Iron Curtain) stopped people who REALLY wanted to get to the West.

    • Dimsdale on July 11, 2010 at 4:13 pm

      As I recall, 10-20 million didn't just pop over the wall either  The number currently is believed to have been about 5000 attempts over its 28 year existence.  We get that many illegals in about 28 minutes on our sieve-like border.


      I trust there was no insinuation in your example.

  15. sammy22 on July 12, 2010 at 4:18 am

    No insinuation, Dims. Your "suggestion" of a double wall w/ a mine field in between was a nice touch. But then you were just kidding, right?


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