Home > B2, Learning, Mr. O. Recommends > Do as I Say, Not as I Do

Do as I Say, Not as I Do

Recently in our government class, we did a project in which we looked at some hypothetical court cases and determined whether or not they were legal under the Constitution. I remember thinking that this was kind of cool but when would I ever use this? It wasn’t until I began reading a recent article about the Justice Department suing an Arizona Sheriff that I actually began to think of whether what was happening was legal. In this article, Sheriff Joe Arpaio is being sued by the Justice Department on the grounds that his methods and reasons for seeking out illegal immigrants are infringing on the rights of the citizens living in the area. In this blog post I will explain why this is a legal lawsuit through the judicial system, as well as explore several reasons for why Sheriff Arpaio is guilty in the lawsuit.

 To begin, it is important to understand who is in the judicial branch and what do they do? The judicial branch of our government consists of three levels of courts: the district courts, the court of appeals, and the Supreme Court. The district courts are essentially the courts where everything happens first. Most of the time a case will begin and end here as they are not of national issue. The 2nd level of courts is the court of appeals. In the appeals courts, cases are appealed to a higher authority than the district court when one party is unsatisfied with the job done by the district courts. The final and highest level of courts is the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is responsible for determining if a bill or act is unconstitutional. In this specific instance where Sheriff Joe Arpaio is being sued, the case will begin in the district courts just as all the others do, but I would not be surprised if this is eventually taken to the Supreme Court as both sides feel that they are doing right by the Constitution and protecting rights held by the people.

To analysis this case we must understand that the U.S. Constitution was written long ago without these specific instances in mind, but that it still holds true today. First off, the lawsuit is not a criminal one that you often see on TV, but rather a civil case where the defendants are accused of creating a “pattern or practice of unlawful discrimination” against Latinos, as stated in a recent New York Times Article by Fernanda Santos. The Constitution states in the 7th Amendment in the Bill of Rights that, “the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.” This basically means that the accusations against Sheriff Arpaio will be presented in front of a jury of his peers in which he will be able to plead his case.

 Now that the basics of the situation have been covered, I am going to give you a couple Constitutional points as to why Sheriff Arpaio is in fact guilty. To begin, it states in the same New York Times article that many Latinos were “five to nine times more likely than their non-Latino counterparts to be stopped or searched… for appearing disheveled or dirty or if it was deemed that too many people were in the back seat.” This in itself is unconstitutional because it violates the 4th amendment in that these citizens were unjustly searched and then later detained merely for their appearance which they cannot control. Next, in the same case investigation it is said that, “suspicion and grounds for arrest have been heavily influenced by ethnicity or poor English skills.” This fact clearly goes against everything the founding fathers stood for when they were writing the Constitution. They spoke of establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, promoting the general welfare, and securing the Blessings of Liberty to every man, woman, and child without prejudice as stated in the Preamble of the Constitution.

I believe that through the general knowledge of the judicial system and the U.S. Constitution, it is clear to see that Sheriff Arpaio has committed an unconstitutional act and should be punished accordingly. I hope that through my posting, you have learned a little more about your court system and how it runs in a real world situation that was interesting. I encourage you to do more research on your own and formulate your own opinion on Sheriff Arpaio’s case. Is he guilty or not?

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  1. DanielAGov
    May 16, 2012 at 9:47 am

    I found the case to be quite interesting and your choice of pictures grabbed my attention. It is informative and well written. With the information given I also believe the sheriff is guilty as well. There are laws for a reason that prevent what he is doing and he is discriminating against potential citizens who may not know English well and what he is doing could be considered racist for how he is stereotyping the people he sees. Tucker you could have maybe enlarged the picture of the judges or placed it where it could divide the paragraphs up to create a little more spacing but over all it was a well written and interesting post.

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