Arizona's Quixotic Immigration Lawsuit.

Responding to a federal lawsuit arguing that Arizona's recent anti-immigration measures violate U.S. law, Jan Brewer has filed a lawsuit of her own alleging that the federal government has violated its own Constitutional responsibilities. If you squint really hard, the lawsuit is not entirely without textual support. The basis of the lawsuit is Article IV of the Constitution, which requires the federal government to "protect each [State] against Invasion." The Arizona government contends that the federal government is not fulfilling its responsibilities.

While I cannot, therefore, argue that the suit is entirely without constitutional basis, this isn't to say that I think it has -- or should have -- any chance of succeeding. There are obvious problems with both elements of Arizona's claim. First, it is (to put it mildly) a stretch to argue that Arizona is undergoing an "invasion." Illegal immigration does not constitute a military threat or an attempt to overthrow the state government; anti-immigration metaphors are not a sound basis for constitutional interpretation. And, second, even if we were to accept the implausible argument that Arizona is under "invasion," it would be extremely hard to argue that the U.S. government is abdicating its constitutional responsibilities. The federal government, after all, devotes substantial resources and manpower to border control, and the fact that it does not make it quite as high a priority or balances draconian border control with obvious downsides doesn't constitute a constitutional violation. As they have done with another section of Article IV, the federal courts are almost certain to hold that how the federal government deals with border control is a political, not legal, question.

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