SB 1070

More from this show

Ex-Attorneys General Grant Woods and Terry Goddard along with 42 other state Attorneys General filed a brief with the US Supreme Court expressing law enforcement’s concern with SB 1070. Grant Woods discusses the details of the court brief.

José Cárdenas: Good evening, I'm José Cárdenas. Attorneys general from several states filed their arguments with the U.S. Supreme Court, expressing law enforcement's concern with S.B. 1070. We'll talk to one of the former arena attorney generals about the details of the core brief. Also, a Latino literary organization brings a supply of books to Tucson they say are no longer allowed on the shelves of classrooms. And efforts to preserve the history of an old South Phoenix church, all this coming up next on "Horizonte."

José Cárdenas: Arizona versus the United States. A showdown in the U.S. supreme court next week over S.B. 1070. The high court will hear arguments in Governor Jan Brewer's appeal of a ruling that blocked police from enforcing the law's most controversial elements. U.S. district judge Susan Bolton stopped enforcement. Former Arizona attorneys general Grant Woods and Terry Goddard along with 42 other former attorneys general filed a court brief arguing that S.B. 1070 weakens public safety and law enforcement. With me now to talk about the detail of the brief is former attorney general Grant Woods. Welcome back. We've had you on this show before. In many respects, this is Grant Woods and Terry Goddard versus Arizona. Your names are on the caption. There are 42 other attorneys general but your names are there. How did this come to be?

Grant Woods: Well, I think my position on S.B. 1070 has been pretty clear from the beginning and I have felt it's unconstitutional. Bad public policy, and so I led in discussions with a lot of people who are going to intervene and get involved with this Supreme Court decision by filing their own amicus briefs. I told them I would be glad to help out however I could and then some of the groups, the ACLU, thought that was kind of intriguing. We've been on the opposite sides of many issues. I went to the Supreme Court and argued against the ACLU on a case so the idea that we would be on the same side I guess was intriguing and we went from there and ultimately we ended up having as you said 42 attorneys-general, including Bruce Babbitt, former Arizona Attorney General. We had three former attorneys-general from Arizona along with all of our colleagues from around the United States.

José Cárdenas: One of the things that really jumps out at you from the brief, it's the opening paragraph, is the Chandler raid. That incident in which you played a very prominent role in terms of dealing with the aftermath of it. That seems to be the thread that ties the various arguments together. Talk about that.

Grant Woods: Sure. Well, if people recall, it was toward the end of my term in I think 1997. There was a big enforcement effort taking place in Chandler. It was an effort between the local Chandler police and the border patrol where they were going to "round up", their words, illegal aliens. And at the time, it got all positive press if you look back on it for those three days. But the more I heard from people in Chandler about what really went on, the more concerned I was. I had questionable jurisdiction maybe you could say but it seemed to me if civil rights was going to be a major part of our platform in the attorney general's office, which it was, then I should get involved. We did get involved, we looked at it and what we found was unacceptable and that was that people were routinely stopped on the street and pulled over in their cars for one reason and one reason only: And that's because they were brown-skinned. That was it. We listened to the tape. The tapes were amazing. They would identify the car, say "No probable cause" and pull them over. Very rarely do you have police officers actually saying the words "no probable cause". So the reason that's important here is because there is a real-life example of what happened when local law enforcement got involved in immigration efforts such as is contemplated in S.B. 1070. What happens is people end up getting profiled. So you have that, flash forward to 2012 and what the Justice Department has found is systemic profiling going on of Latinos by the Sheriff's Department.

José Cárdenas: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, Joe Arpaio.

Grant Woods: It shows how unacceptable this is. The good news was at the conclusion of all the hoopla over the results of our study, the Attorney General of the United States, Janet Reno got on a call with me and they said what do you want? To make this calm down. And I said what I want is for this to never happen again in the United States. And the attorney general told me, "You got it. It won't. Not going to happen again on our watch." She was good to her word. It didn't happen again under the Clinton Administration. But it's back and it's back in our state, our state leading the way. Ironic given the predominance of the Mexican culture in the history of the state of Arizona, in the present of our state and in the future of our state, in the number of Latinos who live here. Our state should be leading the effort in the other directions, not in this direction. I thought I was incumbent on people like myself to stand up and say, "You know what this is wrong and to let the justices know that we have a real-life example here going on in Arizona. We had it in the '90s, we have it today, of what will happen under 1070."

José Cárdenas: That's another interesting aspect, as well. You don't pull any punches. It doesn't say there's a possibility of racial profiling. This may give rise to unfortunate circumstances. You just say it will occur if this law goes into effect, racial profiling will occur.

Grant Woods: That's our view and that's my view. That's the view of former Attorney General Goddard, former Attorney General Babbitt and the other 42 former attorneys-general. Why? Because we have experience in law enforcement and we understand that even with the best intentions, these things happen. You have in S.B. 1070 a really disturbing private right to sue police officers and police departments if they're not enforcing immigration laws appropriately supposedly, which again will shift the priorities so that people who don't want to get sued so they really go the other way here.

José Cárdenas: And that's one of the points that you make. You make three points as to what's wrong with S.B. 1070 from law enforcement's perspective. That one being effectively the intimidation of law enforcement there if they don't enforce it, they'll be sued. The other is the impact on the relationship between law enforcement and the community.

Grant Woods: Right, and I view that as extremely serious here. I think we understand, most people believe in this country, that community policing works and that is the police officers are not seen as, you know, like Javere from Les Mis. They're seen as a part of the fabric of the community. People view them as an ally, as an asset. So people feel free to go to police officers.

José Cárdenas: And that relationship will be negatively impacted.

Grant Woods: It's going to be negatively impacted in a big way.

José Cárdenas: On that note, we're out of time. We'll have to end it there.

Grant Woods: And hopefully, we can get around that if the court will rule the way the lower courts and Judge Bolton as ruled then we can get back to more sanity here in community policing. Let the police officers do their real job.

José Cárdenas: Grant Woods, thanks for joining us on "Horizonte."

Grant Woods:Former Arizona Attorney General;

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates

An armed forces bugler playing the trumpet in front of the United States Capitol building.
airs May 26

National Memorial Day Concert 2024

Graphic for the AZPBS kids LEARN! Writing Contest with a child sitting in a chair writing on a table and text reading: The Ultimate Field Trip
May 26

Submit your entry for the 2024 Writing Contest

Rachel Khong
May 29

Join us for PBS Books Readers Club!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: