The Corner

Re: Adjective Inflation

Thanks for alerting me to that Shikha Dalmia post, Mark. Her snark to argument ratio is pretty high, but there are some arguments in there. I just don’t find them persuasive.

Her column suggested that the Arizona law was obviously unconstitutional because it attempted to regulate immigration flows; her follow-up refines this claim considerably. She concedes that another law that also attempts to regulate immigration flows has been upheld but notes that litigation is ongoing and distinguishes that law from the current one. But the distinctions have little to do with her original point. If any state law that affects immigration flows is obviously unconstitutional, then the case against the earlier law should have been a slam dunk. What’s obvious is that it wasn’t.

I also thought Dalmia was mistaken in claiming that the clear purpose of the law is “to give state authorities expanded tools to drive out immigrants.” I see no reason to assume that the intent is to drive out legal immigrants as well as illegal ones. In her response Dalmia quotes the wrong section of her column and then says the law will “cause the attrition of both the legal and illegal population alike because the racial profiling it unleashes will open both up to Arpaio-style harassment.” For reasons Corner readers can probably recite themselves, I don’t buy this claim about the effects of the law. But it is, in any case, different from her original claim about its intent.

Finally, I should note that I do not need Dalmia to bait me into questioning or disagreeing with Mark. I have done it plenty of times provoked by nothing more than my disagreements or reservations about things he has said. I initially had reservations about the Arizona law, too, and still wonder how much it will accomplish. But so far I have found the arguments that Mark and other defenders of the law make more persuasive than those that the critics make.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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