Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer Slams ‘Foreign Interference’ in Immigration Lawsuit

Scott Wong, Politico, October 6, 2010

In a new twist in the fight over Arizona’s immigration law, Republican Gov. Jan Brewer on Tuesday asked a federal court to disallow foreign governments from joining the U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit to overturn the law.

The move comes in response to a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling issued Monday, allowing nearly a dozen Latin American countries–Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru and Chile–to submit friend-of-the-court briefs in Justice’s challenge to SB 1070, which Brewer signed into law in April and is considered one of the nation’s toughest immigration-enforcement measures.

“As do many citizens, I find it incredibly offensive that these foreign governments are using our court system to meddle in a domestic legal dispute and to oppose the rule of law,” the Republican governor said in a statement shortly after the state’s motion was filed Tuesday evening.

“What’s even more offensive is that this effort has been supported by the U.S. Department of Justice. American sovereignty begins in the U.S. Constitution and at the border,” she added. {snip}

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Brewer’s motion should resonate among conservative legal scholars worried about giving foreign legal systems a voice in American jurisprudence. These concerns are a reaction to a school of legal thought arguing that American judges should look to foreign laws and courts for assistance in interpreting the U.S. Constitution, particularly in regard to basic human rights issues. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is arguably the leading spokesperson for this approach, as noted in a 2005 New Yorker profile.

The state of Arizona’s motion could also strike a chord with those on the right who are convinced that President Barack Obama (and Bill Clinton before him) want to make U.S. laws subordinate to international courts, particularly the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Under Clinton, the United States signed a treaty to join the court weeks before leaving office in January 2001, though the Senate never ratified his action. Months later, President George W. Bush pulled the United States out of the treaty, saying he worried foreign governments would try to prosecute U.S. troops for alleged war crimes.

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