I was waiting at a long line in a local CVS, with no clerk in sight. It was late at night; a couple of my fellow customers actually shouted for assistance. We had been there with no service for more than ten minutes, and not a single employee was in evidence. Finally, I stepped out of line—past a police officer, who was also waiting, grabbed the microphone on the counter, turned it on, and announced in stentorian tones: “There is a long line at the check-out counter! Will a CVS employee please report to the front of the store? Thank you!”
The line of people applauded. The police officer smiled and gave me a thumbs up. The clerk, full of apologies, arrived and began taking our money.
Did I have a legal right to use the microphone? No, I did not. But I still did the right thing, and I would do it again.
This is, I believe, the proper way to think about the federal judge’s decision today to block the key provisions in the Arizona anti-illegal immigration law until further examination by the courts. The law may well be too vague, and there are sound Constitutional reasons not to allow states to take the enforcement of federal statutes into their own hands. The court’s ruling was probably the right one.
But is nonetheless outrageous for the Federal government to refuse to enforce something as important as immigration laws, and to allow millions of illegal immigrants to flood Arizona and other states without making any good faith effort to stop them. As the victims of this irresponsible breach of duty, Arizona was right to make a strong statement and take assertive action to make sure the government’s inaction was recognized and seen for what it is: cowardice, sloth, incompetence, and political manipulation. The state, in effect, grabbed the microphone.
Imagine, if you will, the reaction from the customers if the sole reaction of the CVS employee who arrived on the scene was to condemn me for appropriating the store’s equipment without permission, file a complaint with the police officer, and then disappear again, leaving the register unmanned. Yet this is precisely what the Obama Administration has done in Arizona. Its conduct is indefensible—politically, logically, and ethically. It has an important responsibility and a job to do, and is not only refusing to do them, but also focusing all its attention on the victims’ of its inaction desperate attempts to do the job of the Federal Government, because the Federal government refuses to do it.
Other than the illegal immigrants themselves, the only unethical party in this scenario is the Obama Administration. Arizona, and Judge Bolton have done the right thing.