Attorney General Terry Goddard has had quite the roller coaster ride while staking out his positions on S1070. He opposed the law and wishes Gov. Jan Brewer had vetoed it, but also opposed the lawsuit against it. He vowed to defend the state in court, but blasted Brewer for her failure to do so.
Along with accusations that Brewer is playing politics with illegal immigration and failed to do anything about border security, Goddard slammed his campaign rival for signing “a bill she could not defend in court.” The statement came shortly after U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton blocked key provisions of the law from going into effect on July 28.
It was a curious comment from an attorney general who denounced the U.S. Department of Justice’s lawsuit over S1070, vowed to vigorously defend the state in court, and said a strong argument could be made that the landmark illegal immigration law is perfectly constitutional.
Goddard, however, said there was nothing inconsistent about the slap at Brewer.
“I said she couldn’t defend it in court. I didn’t say it couldn’t be defended in court,” Goddard told the Arizona Capitol Times shortly after the injunction was handed down.
Goddard said things might have gone differently if Brewer hadn’t exiled him from the state’s S1070 defense team, which he acknowledged is still a “sore point” for him. Brewer not only refused his offer to defend the state in the federal government’s lawsuit, but pledged legal action to remove him from the case if he fought her on the issue, saying his opposition to the law made him an unreliable defense attorney in the suit.
He noted that on his watch, the Attorney General’s Office successfully defended the state in illegal immigration-related lawsuits, such as the suit against the Legal Arizona Workers Act, which his office will defend before the U.S. Supreme Court later this year. Bolton’s injunction may have come with or without Goddard’s help, he said, but the state could have benefitted from his office’s expertise.
“She wanted to shoot all the baskets and grab all the glory and basically refused to have a joint defense,” he said. “Our lawyers are, I believe, the best in the country in issues like this. We’ve successfully defended two Arizona immigration statutes. I’ve never lost a motion. That’s a pretty good record.”
Brewer’s campaign said Goddard was flip-flopping on the issue and made fun of his recent comment in the New York Times that, “I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t” when it comes to S1070.
“Attorney General Terry Goddard hailed the judge’s ruling today a little over a month after fighting to defend the law and lamenting his position to the East Coast elite at New York City’s Harvard Club. That was, of course, following the first time he changed his mind after initially speaking out against it. It’s enough to make your head spin,” Brewer said in a statement released by her campaign.
Goddard said Brewer is the one who’s being disingenuous – she rails against the feds for not securing the border, but hasn’t done anything to improve border security herself, he said. Brewer has said numerous times that S1070 doesn’t do anything about border security, and Goddard said Bolton’s injunction gives the state an opportunity to move past the political rhetoric about S1070 and focus on the more important issue of fighting violent drug cartels and human smugglers – as he has done.
“Perhaps now we in Arizona can focus on effective steps to fight border crime and keep our families safe. Now we can focus on steps, such as the ones I have been taking, to go after border crime and cut off the cash that flows to organized criminal cartels that smuggle thousands into the U.S.,” Goddard said.
As to the constitutionality of S1070, which the Justice Department said usurps federal authority over immigration, Goddard said arguments could be made that it isn’t preempted by federal law and could be implemented in a constitutional way. But Bolton made some pretty persuasive arguments to the contrary, he said.
“I think she made a strong and defensible argument. I don’t think it’s a matter of agreeing or disagreeing. That’s the law,” Goddard said.