If there’s anything libertarians and social conservatives hate more than Big Government, it’s the Greedy Plaintiff’s Bar. Defenders of the Arizona “Your Papers, Please?” bill don’t seem to have noticed is that it creates a right of private action. Any citizen can sue any “official or agency” for having a “policy or practice” of failing to be mean to brown people “to less than the full extent permitted by Federal law,” and if the suit succeeds the plaintiff can collect attorneys’ fees. (Relevant text at the jump.) Law enforcement officers are personally liable if they are found to have acted in “bad faith.” Rachel Maddow points out that FAIR, which helped write the bill, would stand to benefit financially from this provision.
Note that if two law enforcement agencies, or two different cops, in Arizona have different rates of asking brown people to show their papers, that’s prima facie evidence that the agency with the lower rate has a policy or practice of not acting to “the full extent permitted by federal law.” It’s a plaintiff’s lawyer’s fantasy.
And yet none of the loudmouth “tort reformers” seems to mind. I wonder why that might be. (Perhaps for the same reason that the people who kicked up the “vote fraud” hysteria about ACORN won’t mention that the California Republican Party has been caught – again – hiring a contractor to defraud people into registering Republican?
Footnote Add Mike Huckabee to the list of Republicans criticizing the Arizona law. As I keep saying, Huckabee is dangerous; he’s very conservative and not very well educated, but he’s smart and sane and has a conscience. Unlike Sarah Palin, he could wind up as President.
From the bill, as passed:
G. A PERSON WHO IS A LEGAL RESIDENT OF THIS STATE MAY BRING AN ACTION IN SUPERIOR COURT TO CHALLENGE ANY OFFICIAL OR AGENCY OF THIS STATE OR A COUNTY, CITY, TOWN OR OTHER POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THIS STATE THAT ADOPTS OR IMPLEMENTS A POLICY OR PRACTICE THAT LIMITS OR RESTRICTS THE ENFORCEMENT OF FEDERAL IMMIGRATION LAWS TO LESS THAN THE FULL EXTENT PERMITTED BY FEDERAL LAW. IF THERE IS A JUDICIAL FINDING THAT AN ENTITY HAS VIOLATED THIS SECTION, THE COURT SHALL ORDER THAT THE ENTITY PAY A CIVIL PENALTY OF NOT LESS THAN ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS AND NOT MORE THAN FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR EACH DAY THAT THE POLICY HAS REMAINED IN EFFECT AFTER THE FILING OF AN ACTION PURSUANT TO THIS SUBSECTION.
H. A COURT SHALL COLLECT THE CIVIL PENALTY PRESCRIBED IN SUBSECTION G OF THIS SECTION AND REMIT THE CIVIL PENALTY TO THE STATE TREASURER FOR DEPOSIT IN THE GANG AND IMMIGRATION INTELLIGENCE TEAM ENFORCEMENT MISSION FUND ESTABLISHED BY SECTION 41‑1724.
I. THE COURT MAY AWARD COURT COSTS AND REASONABLE ATTORNEY FEES TO ANY PERSON OR ANY OFFICIAL OR AGENCY OF THIS STATE OR A COUNTY, CITY, TOWN OR OTHER POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THIS STATE THAT PREVAILS BY AN ADJUDICATION ON THE MERITS IN A PROCEEDING BROUGHT PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION.
J. EXCEPT IN RELATION TO MATTERS IN WHICH THE OFFICER IS ADJUDGED TO HAVE ACTED IN BAD FAITH, A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER IS INDEMNIFIED BY THE LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER’S AGENCY AGAINST REASONABLE COSTS AND EXPENSES, INCLUDING ATTORNEY FEES, INCURRED BY THE OFFICER IN CONNECTION WITH ANY ACTION, SUIT OR PROCEEDING BROUGHT PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION IN WHICH THE OFFICER MAY BE A DEFENDANT BY REASON OF THE OFFICER BEING OR HAVING BEEN A MEMBER OF THE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY.