Escalating Lawfare and Sheriff Joe

Trump's pardon of Sheriff Joe uses the Left's favorite weapon against them.

With deep concern and downcast mien, CNN reports:

President Donald Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio on Friday, sparing the controversial former Arizona sheriff a jail sentence after he was convicted of criminal contempt related to his hard-line tactics going after undocumented immigrants.

The move drew outcry from civil rights groups, which accuse Arpaio of violating the Constitution in his crackdown on illegal immigration.

"Sheriff Joe" represents the embodiment of our ongoing cold civil war, between the desire of the American people to keep America largely the way it has historical been and the desire of our elites to change it into something completely different.  The Sheriff made his name by - shock, horror - actually enforcing the law in Arizona: he aggressively arrested and deported illegal immigrants, and he also firmly punished all other lawbreakers in his jurisdiction.  As a result, he was continually re-elected until a mammoth campaign with millions of dollars of outside leftist money managed to get him replaced.

Being rid of the Sheriff wasn't enough, though; he had to be made an example.  The Obama Justice Department continually investigated and pursued his department for alleged civil rights violations, eventually finding a congenial judge who found Arpaio guilty:

Arpaio was ordered to stop targeting Latinos for traffic stops and detention.

"Not only did (Arpaio) abdicate responsibility, he announced to the world and to his subordinates that he was going to continue business as usual no matter who said otherwise," wrote US District Judge Susan Bolton in the July 31 order finding Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt...

Bolton's decision arose from a finding of civil contempt by US District Court Judge G. Murray Snow in the racial-profiling case of Melendres v. Arpaio, first filed in 2007. Beginning in 2011, Snow ordered Arpaio to stop detaining people based simply on a belief that they were in the country illegally, rather than suspicion that a crime has been committed.

A little logic shows that it is the judge behaving unconstitutionally rather than the Sheriff.  For one thing, being in the country illegally is a crime - admittedly not a felony, but a crime nonetheless.  And for another, as we've discussed extensively, illegal immigrants have no Constitutional rights - they do have human rights, but Arpaio was not violating any of those.

What about the charge of racism against Latinos?  It is not Sheriff Joe's fault that Arizona happens to share a border with Mexico, not China or Pakistan.  Common sense dicates that 99% of the illegal immigrants in his state will be Latino, so if you are looking for them, you can't help but check an awful lot of Latinos.  If the Sheriff's team happened to stop, say, a Brit who'd illegally overstayed his tourist visa, we have every confidence the law would have been enforced on him as well, but how many of those could you expect his men to find?

Nevertheless, as has become standard practice, our anti-American elites use our rules of law and sympathetic judges to punish their political opponents such as Joe Arpaio, as a lesson to any other local law enforcement officials who might be tempted to enforce laws the left doesn't like.

Fortunately for Sheriff Joe, elections have consequences: the Oval Office is now occupied by a man who agrees with him and most Americans, that our laws ought to be enforced.  Even CNN had to grudgingly admit that President Donald Trump holds the power to pardon:

Under the Constitution, Trump is permitted wide leeway in issuing pardons. There are no requirements for consultation within the administration before a decision is announced.

"The President exercised his lawful authority and we respect his decision," said Ian Prior, a Justice Department spokesman.

So that's that, and Sheriff Joe is rightfully off the hook.

It's Never Over

Or not.  The New York Times, accompanied by other leftist media, has created a fascinating new argument:

Under the Constitution one cannot be deprived of liberty without a court ruling upon the legality of the detention. The power of courts to restrain government officers from depriving citizens of liberty absent judicial process is the only meaningful way courts have to enforce important constitutional protections...

As a principle of constitutional law, anything in the body of the Constitution inconsistent with the directive of an amendment is necessarily pre-empted or modified by that amendment. If a particular exercise of the pardon power leads to a violation of the due process clause, the pardon power must be construed to prevent such a violation.

What the writer is saying here is - any action, including a Constitutional pardon, that infringes on a right provided by an amendment, must automatically be unconstitutional.

This actually isn't such a bad idea, in principle - for instance, "anti-discrimination" regulations forcing bakers and photographers to endorse homosexual unions against their sincerely-held religious beliefs clearly infringe First Amendment rights and are thus unconstitutional, so anyone convicted of violating those unconstitutional laws or regulation deserves a pardon.  Needless to say, the Times doesn't consider those rights to be worth defending.

No, the only such super-duper rights are the ones not found anywhere in the Constitutional text - things like abortion and illegal immigration.  From the lefty point of view, Sheriff Joe's phony infringement of rights that illegal immigrants do not posses is the true unpardonable sin.

The Times doesn't seriously expect this argument to get much traction, at least not today.  But leftists are nothing if not forward planners.  By laying down this marker now, next time a leftist holds high office, the "Constitutional principle" will be ready and waiting for them to establish useful precedents that, once again, serve to deprive the American people of their right to have the laws evenly enforced and not made up by biased judges.

To his credit, Donald Trump is ignoring the howls of fury; indeed, he seems to understand that outrage from the left is a sign that he's doing the right thing.  When he gets applause from the media will be the time to worry.

Even better, though, unlike just about any other Republican, President Trump seems to realize that the law can be a weapon for both offense and defense.  The Left has wielded law and legalisms like a battering ram against American tradition, culture, and the rule of law for decades.  Perhaps they are about to discover it works both ways.

In the meantime, Sheriff Joe has reaped the just reward for his diligence in protecting the people of his jurisdiction.  As the Washington Post bemoans, but Americans can celebrate:

Trump pardoned Arpaio because of his actions as sheriff, actions that are consistent with the platform on which Trump campaigned and has attempted to govern. Those actions were appalling — and not only is Arpaio unremorseful, but Trump has actually held him up as a model to be emulated.

And so he is.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Immigration.
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