State Department throws Arizona under the bus
Why the State Department’s criticism of Arizona’s law is a strike for states’ rights
The AP reports that the US State Department listed its objection to Arizona’s immigration law as a step the State Department is taking to protect human rights. Understandably, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer disagrees, writing:
“The idea of our own American government submitting the duly enacted laws of a state of the United States to ‘review’ by the United Nations is internationalism run amok and unconstitutional.”
Let’s take these claims one at a time.
If the role of the High Commissioner on Human Rights is indeed to protect human rights, a state’s ability to criticize its own past decisions seems to be critical. Given the UN’s lack of hard power and unwillingness to intercede in state-level politics except when absolutely necessary (and often not even then), for there to be any kind of international human rights regime states must police themselves. The State Department’s actions seem to be internationalism of the best kind.
Further, the State Department’s decision is in fact a strike in defense of state sovereignty. By criticizing Arizona’s law, the State Department concedes Arizona’s ability to make laws that displease federal bodies. While the State Department is working through legal channels to overturn the law, in the meanwhile the immigration law remains on the books and seems to be a legitimate and likely target for human rights discussions.
It’s certainly not clear why Brewer thinks the state department’s decision is unconstitutional, other than the fact that things one disagrees with tend to be unconstitutional. In fact, the federal judge who ruled against Arizona’s law seems to believe that it’s the law itself that’s in the wrong.
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