The Corner

Re: Debating Arizona

Cesar, I’ll grant you that Byron York’s description of one provision of the law was imprecise in a technical and unimportant way. York writes, “The law clearly says that if someone produces a valid Arizona driver’s license, or other state-issued identification, they are presumed to be here legally.” As you point out, the law does not say that any “other state-issued identification” will create that presumption. Instead it lists several other types of identification that would do so, including “a valid tribal enrollment card” or a valid state, local, or federal i.d. that requires proof of legal residence before issuance.

You write that “[m]any states have no such requirement.” “Many” seems like a stretch: Forty-two states do have the requirement, and that number may well rise. You also ignore the fact that the “reasonable suspicion” standard already exists in case law and is not the invention of the Arizona statute. It is hard to see what, in your hypothetical, would trigger that “reasonable suspicion.” Speeding and being Hispanic wouldn’t be enough to do it.

If you are worried that cops are prone to abusing their discretion, we can debate how much that’s worth worrying about. But it’s not clear that the new law adds much to what you’re worrying about in that case.

You are, finally, quite right to note that some people often grouped on the Right have expressed concern about the law. (I wouldn’t call Boaz, for example, a “conservative”; I don’t think he would so describe himself.) That might be relevant if, for example, I had said that no conservative in good standing could take a contrary view to mine. All I’m saying is that as far as I can tell, the conservative critics of the law are wrong. And it does not seem beyond the realm of possibility that Boaz, Rubio, et al could be wrong.

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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