Bill Nye, the Scientism Guy Gets Serious - Bill thinks a bare, two child replacement family in the West is too great a burden on the planet. His solution illustrated.
The Supreme Court upheld the New York law by a 6-to-1 margin. The lone dissenter was Justice Joseph Story, who said that the statute conflicted with federal powers under the commerce clause. As summarized in the syllabus, the court majority ruled as follows:
But though five justices struck down Massachusetts’s two-dollar fee per arriving passenger to support those aliens who might later become paupers, all nine justices expressed approval of another Massachusetts provision forbidding the entry of aliens who were found to be “lunatics, idiots, maimed, aged, or infirm, incompetent to maintain themselves, or who have been paupers in any other country” unless a bond of $1,000 was paid in their behalf.1
The latter provision, wrote Justice John McLean, “is the exercise of an unquestionable power in the State to protect itself from foreign paupers and other persons who would be a public charge,” while the former, he contended, “was a regulation of commerce, and not being within the power of the State, the act imposing the tax is void.”
Significantly, those in the majority did not deny that the states could pass any law pursuant to their police powers unless forbidden by their own constitutions or in conflict with a legitimate federal law under the supremacy clause. Justice James Wayne, for example, while denying that states possess unlimited discretion concerning the admittance of aliens, conceded that “the States have the right to turn off paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives from justice . . . . The States may meet such persons upon their arrival in port, and may put them under all proper restraints. They may prevent them from entering their territories, may carry them out or drive them off.”
But what the majority justices gave with one hand, they took back with the other by arrogating to themselves the right to determine the states’ motives in adopting each provision of every law enacted. Thus, Justice McLean acknowledged that “a State cannot regulate foreign commerce, but it may do many things which more or less affect it.”
He also wrote, however, that “[n]o one has yet drawn the line clearly, because, perhaps, no one can draw it, between the commercial power of the Union and the municipal power of a State. Numerous cases have arisen, involving these powers, which have been decided, but a rule has necessarily been observed as applicable to the circumstances of each case. And so must every case be adjudged.”
In this particular case, McLean and his colleagues in the majority decided that restricting one class of aliens was a valid exercise of the state’s right, under its police powers, to limit the burden of pauperism upon its citizens but that restricting the other class of aliens was being done by the state for some purpose not encompassed by its police powers, such as raising revenue, although the precise distinguishing characteristic of that other purpose was not entirely clear.
For Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney and his brethren in the minority, however, this distinction by the majority between the two classes of aliens was nothing less than the substitution by the court of its own discretion for the discretion reserved exclusively to the states that was itself the police power. The majority, noted Taney, approved the exclusion of one group but not of the other. “Yet,” wrote the chief justice,
there is no provision in the Constitution of the United States which makes any distinction between different descriptions of aliens, or which reserves the power to the State as to one class and denies it over the other. And if no such distinction is to be found in the Constitution, this court cannot engraft one upon it. The power of the State, as to these two classes of aliens must be regarded here as standing upon the same principles. It is in its nature and essence a discretionary power, and if it resides in the State as to the poor and the diseased, it must also reside in it as to all.
Elaborating on the same issue, Justice Levi Woodbury emphasized that, as the power to exclude aliens belongs exclusively to the states, “it is for the State where the power resides to decide on what is sufficient cause for it,—whether municipal or economical, sickness or crime; as, for example, danger of pauperism, danger to health, danger to morals, danger to property, danger to public principles by revolutions or change of government, or danger to religion.”
Woodbury noted that the states’ power, recognized in Prigg, to establish their own immigration policies without interference from the general government was wholly distinct from the latter’s power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization. The two powers do not conflict, he explained, because “acts of naturalization apply to those aliens only who have already resided here” for a period of years, “and not to aliens not resident here at all, or not so long.”
Addressing the same issue, Chief Justice Taney wrote:
It cannot be necessary to say any thing upon the article of the Constitution which gives to Congress the power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization. The motive and object of this provision are too plain to be misunderstood. Under the Constitution of the United States, citizens of each State are entitled to the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States; and no State would be willing that another State should determine for it what foreigner should become one of its citizens, and be entitled to hold lands and to vote at its elections. For, without this provision, any one State could have given the right of citizenship in every other State; and, as every citizen of a State is also a citizen of the United States, a single State, without this provision, might have given to any number of foreigners it pleased the right to all the privileges of citizenship in commerce, trade, and navigation, although they did not even reside amongst us.
The nature of our institutions under the Federal government made it a matter of absolute necessity that this power should be confided to the government of the Union, where all the States were represented, and where all had a voice; a necessity so obvious that no statesman could have overlooked it.
Congress’s naturalization power, the chief justice concluded, “has nothing to do with the admission or rejection of aliens, nor with immigration, but with the rights of citizenship. Its sole object was to prevent one State from forcing upon all the others, and upon the general government, persons as citizens whom they were unwilling to admit as such.”
In the Passenger Cases, four justices held that the regulation of aliens within their borders was exclusively a state function. Five other justices held that the states’ power in this area, though clearly encompassed by the states’ exclusive police power, was subject to federal limitation, but only if a state’s action violated a specific constitutional prohibition such as imposing a duty on imports or if it conflicted with a law of Congress enacted pursuant to its own legitimate constitutional functions.
In contrast, the sweeping objections to the Arizona law now coming from the U.S. Government and many public commentators show deep ignorance or cynical disregard of constitutional law and history related to the issue in question.
The point of this article is not that one public-policy preference is superior to another but that constitutional government requires respect for law and precedent. Long ago politicians and amenable Supreme Court justices started promoting political objectives by simply ignoring important elements of the Constitution and reading new, hitherto unknown meaning into it. The controversy over the Arizona law and not least the actions of the federal government with regard to it show a flagrant disregard of the spirit, substance, and history of the U.S Constitution while exemplifying the growth of arbitrary, capricious government.
1. If the wording of the Massachusetts provision upheld by the court seems harsh or politically incorrect, consider that the federal immigration law enacted by Congress decades later in 1882 denied entry to “idiots, lunatics, and persons likely to become a public charge.”
Joseph Baldacchino is president of the National Humanities Institute and co-director of the Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies.
Posted by LandShark 5150 at 08:41