Attorney General Terry Goddard withdrew as the state’s attorney in its defense of S1070, saying Gov. Jan Brewer made it clear that she was unwilling to work with him for the benefit of the state.
Goddard in May announced his intention to defend the state in several lawsuits filed against its strict new illegal immigration law, but Brewer said he could not be relied on to mount Arizona’s defense because of critical comments he had made about S1070.
Goddard said he never questioned the law’s constitutionality, and said Brewer was motivated by politics, not the state’s best interests. Brewer is seeking the Republican nomination for a full term as governor, and will face the Democratic Goddard in November if she wins the Aug. 24 primary.
“I’ve given it some hard thought, and although I have no question there is no legal way the attorney general can be removed from a case like this, I don’t think it’s in the best interests of Arizona to have a very expensive and noisy sideshow about who should represent the state,” Goddard said.
Brewer on June 15 sent a letter to Goddard asking the attorney general to remove himself from the case. She cited an amendment to S1070 that authorized the governor to hire outside counsel for its legal defense, and said she would “pursue all legal remedies” to have him removed from the case.
In a June 18 press release, Goddard said he believes he would win any legal showdown with Brewer over his defense of S1070, but said her letter made it clear that he could not do so without a “costly legal fight.”
Five lawsuits have been filed against S1070, and a sixth may be on the way after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told an Ecuadoran news station that the U.S. Department of Justice had decided to move forward with a lawsuit against Arizona over the law. But Goddard said he spoke with Department of Justice officials who told him the department had not made a final decision on whether to sue.
Goddard said he believes Clinton misspoke and questioned her authority to speak for the White House on such matters.
“They just sound foolish,” Goddard said of Clinton’s comments. “The legal position of the United States is not determined by the secretary of state.”