“When the [Attorney General] does it, that means that it is not illegal.”
In the aftermath of the 11th Circuit issuing an injunction, pending fuller appeal, against Alabama’s enforcement of the (major) portions of its new immigration law that a lower court had let stand, Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department is demonstrating a breathtaking—even for this administration—arrogance.
Among other things, the injunction blocks Alabama school districts from collecting immigration information from its enrolled students. Holder’s DoJ, bypassing the districts’ legal representation, the State’s Attorney General (Luther Strange), has gone straight to the districts to demand they surrender to Justice copies of all such immigration information (information which they now are enjoined from collecting).
Yet, despite explicit and repeated requests from Strange that Holder cite the authority by which he conducts his “investigation” of an internal State matter, Holder has steadfastly refused to identify that authority. Instead, he simply keeps repeating his bald assertion that he has it. In a letter which his Assistant US Attorney General, Thomas Perez, wrote to Strange, this is all he had to say:
The Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is tasked with investigating potential violations of civil rights laws that protect educational opportunities for schoolchildren. We know that the longstanding legal tradition in this country of ensuring the right to attend school without being subject to discrimination on any impermissible ground is as critically important to you, as the Attorney General of the State of Alabama, as it is to the Civil Rights Division.
This is just a cynical obfuscation of the matter. Asserting that an arm of Justice “is tasked” wholly evades Strange’s question of “by what authority.”
It would seem more appropriate, since Holder seems unable to identify the source of his asserted authority (else surely he would do so), that he look more to doing his job. As Senator Jeff Sessions (R, AL) suggested in a related context,
…I would suggest that the Attorney General take a little timeout from his lawsuit against Arizona or Alabama or other states, and focus a little bit of his attention on…jurisdiction[s] that [are] willfully and deliberately acting to undermine federal law enforcement.
Sessions said this in response to Senator Dick Durbin’s (D, IL) beef that Alabama actually was trying to enforce immigration law, but the remark applies just as well to Holder in the context of his invasion of AL over its schools.