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“We the People?”

May 18, 2010

For reasons that escape me now, the conversation at The Southside shifted rapidly from baseball players to illegals this afternoon.

The central disagreement was whether the Constitution was intended to secure rights to American citizens or a broader class of individuals. Naturally, I was on the losing side of that debate if measured by popular opinion.

At the core of the conversation was the recent Arizona legislation authorizing law enforcement officials to inquire into an accused’s ability to demonstrate proof of citizenship before being detained. Bill advised me that I didn’t know what I was talking about because I admitted that I hadn’t read “The 10 Point Plan.”

“The what?’ I asked (honestly wanting to know).

“Oh, come on,” he whined. “How can you pretend to know what you’re talking about if you haven’t read the 10 Points yet? Don’t you know what ‘We The People’ is all about?”

“O.K.,  So I’ll go read the 10 Points and be right back.”

Now there’s a reason I carry an iPhone with me besides not wanting to miss calls from my kids or important clients. I am an information nut and the ability to access the internet wherever I am is almost as good as sex. So I ducked out the back door and googled “10 Points Arizona.” And read each carefully. I also checked out the full text of Arizona’s new immigration law.

Returning with a portion of the law highlighted, I asked him what he would do if he and his family were visiting in the Grand Canyon and got pulled over for a tail-light being out.

“I’d pay the ticket,” he growled. “So what?”

“What about when the cop asks you to prove your citizenship?” I had him going …

“The law says as long as I have a valid driver’s license that’s OK,” he said, distainfully.

“Umm, not quite.” And I handed him the iPhone to read the selected text. “You see,” I said, trying on my best calm lawyer voice, “what this says is the cop can let you go if you have a valid driver’s license from a place which, when issued, required that you showed proof of your citizenship. Your New York license didn’t require that for you to get it, so now off you go to the pokey until someone back home can send out your birth certificate or some other suitable proof that you’re a citizen.”

“That’s unconstitutional!” he bellowed.

“Exactly.”

Moral: Folks who scream “We The People”  the loudest generally have no appreciation for what it means.

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