Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The HB1804 Dismissal

Opponents of illegal immigration should not be cheering too loud at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma’s recent sua sponte dismissal of the constitutional challenge to HB 1804. Rather, we should all hold our breath and wait for round two which is bound to come and will be much more serious.

In dismissing the lawsuit, Judge Payne carefully laid out the steps the plaintiffs must take to successfully present their claims. Their case was dismissed without prejudice. They now have a roadmap and an open invitation to return to the courthouse:

“The Court’s holding today does not close the courthouse door to those wishing to challenge the constitutional soundness of HB 1804. The Court’s holding is simply the recognition of the lesson learned through cases like Valley Forge: a proper constitutional vetting of any law cannot be achieved without the existence of a plaintiff that has actually been injured by the challenged law. While a constitutional vetting of HB 1804 would serve the interest of all parties to this litigation, the interest of the public would best be served by a sharpening of the issues presented prior to such a vetting.”

The second round of this litigation will likely be much nastier and the facts will be highly contested. The rhetoric spouted by some Latino activists about “ethnic cleansing in Oklahoma” will likely only get worse as well. I am afraid that as hard as Judge Payne may try to keep the discourse civil in his court room, that civility will not last much farther than the court house door and we are all in for a rocky time ahead.


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