Tag Archives: Law

Dissenting Opinion in Supreme Court Ruling on Trump’s Muslim Ban


The dissenting opinion of Justice Sotomayor was strikingly different in every respect from that of the majority. I read somewhere that the other judges in the majority looked solemnly down when she delivered it in court. It was not kind to them.

First, she dismissed the Government’s claims that it had made a comprehensive examination of policies of other foreign governments to determine if they were interfering with America’s ability to measure the vetting process of foreign nationals. To her it was clear that its review was unimpressive.

Justice Sotomayor noted that there was ample evidence, dismissed by the majority, that Trump had clear animus towards Muslims. During the campaign Trump repeated on many occasions, that he wanted a complete ban on Muslims from entering the US, even after he was warned that such comments were unconstitutional. During the campaign, any suggestions that he tone down his rhetoric were dismissed as “political correctness.” He wanted to call it as he saw it and his supporters liked him for that. So he never disavowed his statements.

Just before issuing the Proclamation implementing the Muslim ban, Trump tweeted that the travel ban should be “far larger, tougher and more specific—but stupidly, that would not be politically correct.” Just after issuing the Proclamation, Trump retweeted 3 clearly anti-Muslim videos entitled “Muslim Destroys a Statute of Virgin Mary!” and “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!” and “Muslim migrants beat up Dutch boy on crutches!” Those videos were originally tweeted by a British political party whose mission is to oppose ‘all alien an destructive political or religious doctrines including ..Islam.” The videos were highly inflammatory and arguably misleading. For example, the person depicted in the video about the Dutch boy was not actually a migrant as alleged and his religion was not known. It is abundantly clear that Trump was driven by anti-Muslim feelings. He displayed them proudly.

Justice Sotomayor started her opinion by pointing out “The United States is a Nation built upon the promise of religious liberty. Our Founders honored that core promise by embedding the principle of religious neutrality in the First Amendment. The Court’s decision today fails to safeguard that fundamental principle. It leaves undisturbed a policy first advertised openly and unequivocally as a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” because the policy now masquerades behind a façade of national-security concerns. But this repackaging does little to cleanse Presidential Proclamation No. 9645 of the appearance of discrimination that the President’s words have created. Based on the evidence in the record, a reasonable observer would conclude that the Proclamation was motivated by anti-Muslim animus.  That alone suffices to show that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their Establishment Clause claim. The majority holds otherwise by ignoring the facts, and misconstruing our legal precedent, and turning a blind eye to the pain and suffering the Proclamation inflicts upon countless families and individuals, many of whom are United States citizens. Because that troubling result runs contrary to the Constitution and our precedent, I dissent.”

Justice Sotomayor analyzed the Establishment Clause in depth. That clause in the first Amendment of the American Constitution forbids government policies “respecting an establishment of religion.” She also stated, “The  ‘clearest command’ of the Establishment Clause is that the Government cannot favor or disfavor one religion over another.”  She added, “the Establishment Clause ‘forbids hostility toward any [religion] because ‘such hostility would bring us into war with our national tradition as embodied in our First Amendment.”

The Founders of the American republic had fresh memories of the religious wars of Europe with their incredibly bloody battles and they did not want to repeat what happened there.  As Sotomayor said, “government actions that favor one religion ‘inevitably’ foster ‘the hatred, disrespect and even contempt of those who [hold] contrary beliefs…Such acts send messages that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community.”

As Justice Sotomayor added, “To guard against this serious harm, the Framers mandated a strict ‘principle of denominational neutrality’…government should not prefer one religion to another, or religion to irreligion.’” There is no neutrality when the government’s ostensible object is to take sides.

To determine whether or not the plaintiffs proved an Establishment Clause violation the court should consider whether a reasonable observer would view the government action as enacted for the purpose of disfavoring a religion, no matter what its words said. Canadian courts usually say this by declaring that the court should look at ‘substance not form’. I would put it in the way a wise Canadian judge once put it: ‘you can call a jackass an eagle but that won’t make it fly’.  That is exactly what Trump did in her view. There was evidence before the court that Trump had asked his legal advisors to put the ban in such words that it would be legal. He wanted a Muslim ban, but he decided to camouflage it as based on territory rather than religion.

In order to determine such an issue it is permissible for the court to look beyond the fine words in the Proclamation to consider the circumstances in which it was issued. That meant the court should look at what the President and his advisors said in public, over and over again.

Justice Sotomayor went through a long analysis of numerous public statements Trump and his advisors made, and this made it absolutely clear what Trump’s actualintent was.  She said that the majority only looked at a few of his statements and a more complete review of those statements clearly demonstrated “animus toward Islam. The full record paints a more harrowing picture, from which a reasonable observer would readily conclude that the Proclamation was motivated by hostility and animus toward the Muslim faith.”

For example, in one speech Trump made in South Carolina he told a story about US General Pershing killing a large group of Muslim insurgents in the Philippines with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood, making it clear that such actions were needed to deal with Muslims who “hated us.” He actually repeated this story on a number of occasions. That is what strong leaders do.

Justice Sotomayor was not fooled. The Proclamation was driven by impermissible discriminatory anti-Muslim animus and not the Government’s asserted national security justifications. I would describe it this way: the Government can put lipstick on a pig, but it will still be a pig. Justice Sotomayor concluded, “The Proclamation rests on a rotten foundation…In sum, none of the features of the Proclamation highlighted by the majority supports the Government’s claim that the Proclamation is genuinely and primarily rooted in a legitimate national security interest. What the unrebuttable evidence actually shows is that a reasonable observer would conclude, quite easily, that the primary purpose and function of the Proclamation is to disfavor Islam by banishing Muslims from entering our country.”

This led Justice Sotomayor to her passionate and eloquent conclusion in which she described the First Amendment which guarantees religious freedom as follows:


The First Amendment stands as a bulwark against official religious prejudice and embodies our Nation’s deep commitment to religious plurality and tolerance.  That constitutional promise is why, [quoting from an earlier decision of the court] ‘for centuries now, people have come to this country from every corner of the world to share in the blessing of religious freedom…’ Instead of vindicating those principles, today’s decision tosses them aside. In holding that the First Amendment gives way to an executive policy that a reasonable observer would view as motivated by animus against Muslims, the majority opinion upends this Court’s precedent, repeats tragic mistakes of the past, and denies countless individuals the fundamental right of religious liberty.


In a previous case a judge of the U.S. Supreme Court had said, “State actors cannot show hostility to religious views; rather, they must give those views ‘neutral and respectful consideration.” That is what Trump and his officials and advisors should demonstrate. Clearly they did not.

As a result Justice Sotomayor said, “the majority here completely sets aside the President’s charged statements about Muslims as irrelevant. That holding erodes the fundamental principles of religious tolerance that the Court elsewhere has so emphatically protected, and it tells members of minority religions in our country ‘that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community’.”

Finally, Justice Sotomayor compared Trump’s actions to the shameful actions of the American authorities in the case of the Korematsu v. United Statesduring the Second World War. In that case the court considered the constitutionality of an Executive Order which ordered Japanese Americans into internment camps during World War II regardless of their citizenship because the need to protect against espionage outweighed the rights of Americans of Japanese descent even though there was little or no evidence that Japanese Americans were acting as spies or making signals to Japan. Instead the Court gave a pass to an odious gravely injurious Presidential order. Just as Trump did, the President at the time, invoked an ill-defined national security threat to justify an exclusionary policy of sweeping proportion. Justice Sotomayor said, “As here, the exclusion was rooted in dangerous stereotypes about, inter alia, a particular group’s supposed inability to assimilate and desire to harm the United States.” Many thought that in the intervening years America had done much to leave its sordid legacy behind. Sadly, Trump and his supporters made it clear that this was not the case. That legacy is very much alive.

Justice Sotomayor made it clear that unlike the majority of the Supreme Court, she did not tolerate this. As she said, “By blindly accepting the Government’s misguided invitation to sanction a discriminatory policy motivated by animosity toward a disfavored group, all in the name of a superficial claim of national security, the Court deploys the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsuand merely replaces one gravely wrong decision with another. Our constitution demands, and our country deserve a Judiciary willing to hold the coordinate branches to account when they defy our most sacred legal commitments. Because the Court’s decision today has failed in that respect, with profound regret, I dissent.”

Maybe you can tell. I much prefer the dissenting opinion to that of the majority of the US Supreme Court.



The U.S. Supreme Court and Trump’s Muslim Ban


On January 27, 2017, within a week of his inauguration, the American President Donald Trump tried to fulfill a very popular election promise to implement a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”  That was one of his famous promises that he made during his campaign. This was all part of his design to “Make America Great Again.” He tried to fulfill this promise by issuing Proclamation 13769 that was swiftly turfed out by lower courts. Instead of appealing those decisions Trump came back with a new Proclamation 9645 in September 2017  that he himself called a “watered-down version” of his original proclamation that he actually preferred.

To those of us who always believed the United States was the epitome of religious freedom this was shocking. A number of Human Rights groups immediately launched legal action to stop the second Presidential directive as well and the case ultimately arrived at the U.S. Supreme Court. There were 9 judges who heard the appeal and 7 of them upheld the President’s proclamation.   While this surprised many, the opinions of the court are lengthy and complicated, and many judges weighed in, but I want to comment on the decision of the American Chief Justice Roberts speaking for a large majority of the court and an interesting dissent delivered by Justice Sotomayor. I will comment first on the decision of the majority and then the dissent.

Chief Justice Roberts pointed out that the proclamation claims to be seeking to improve vetting procedures for foreign nationals travelling to the U.S. by identifying ongoing deficiencies in the information needed to assess whether nationals of particular countries present a security threat. The American agencies developed a “baseline” for the information they required in order to confirm the identity of individuals seeking entry into the US and to determine whether those individuals posed a security threat.

The American agencies determined that 16 countries had deficient information sharing practices and presented security concerns as a result. During a 50-day period in which Homeland Security made diplomatic efforts to encourage foreign governments to improve their practices it determined that 8 countries remained deficient. Eventually Trump determined that 1 country had improved enough to be taken off the list.

The Proclamation placed varying entry restrictions on the nationals of 8 foreign states whose systems for managing and sharing information Trump deemed inadequate. Most of these countries were countries in which a majority of people were members of the Islamic faith.

The President’s directive caused all kinds of chaos and harm to people around the world since it was implemented without warning, catching travelers and their families unawares and stranded.

The State of Hawaii and 3 individual Americans with foreign relatives who were prohibited from entering the US, argued that the Proclamation violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and the Establishment Clause of the Constitution which prohibits the government from establishing or favoring any religion.

The majority decision was actually fairly straightforward. It held that the President is given broad discretionary authority to suspend the entry of “aliens” into the US. Courts should defer to the President who is given the power to suspend entry and for how long and under what conditions. The word “aliens” may seem harsh, but that it the wording in INA. It vests the President with “ample power” to do what he did.

The Supreme court noted that President Trump had first ordered Homeland Security and other governmental agencies to conduct comprehensive evaluation of every single country’s compliance with the information and risk assessment baseline and then based on that review he found that restricting aliens who could not be vetted adequately by American officials on account of failures of their own government, was in the national interest. The Proclamation made it clear that the conditional restrictions would remain in force onlyso long as necessary to address the identified inadequacies. Finally, the class of aliens identified were a group of people linked by nationalityand not religion.

The majority of the Supreme Court rejected the claim that the President’s statements showed that the President’s stated concerns about vetting protocols and national security were only pretexts for discriminating against Muslims. The Proclamation was expressly based on legitimate purposes so the court should not interfere with the President’s legitimate exercise of his powers under INA. It really was that simple in the view of the majority of the court.

All of that seems simple and almost unassailable. One might wonder what all the fuss was about. But wait until you hear about the opinion of the dissent. I will cover that in my next post.

Religious freedom to discriminate: Law Society of British Columbia and Trinity Western University and Brayden Volkenant


Many people in my community have become very excited about the case of Law Society of British Columbia and Trinity Western University (‘TWU’) and Brayden Volkenantwhich together with a similar case in Ontario went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada (‘SCC’) for a decision about how religious freedom and the right to be free from discrimination worked together in Canada. It is always difficult for courts to reconcile 2 conflicting freedoms. In this case at issue was the right of the TWU community to religious freedom and the right of members of the LGBTQ community to be free from discrimination. Both are important rights protected by the Charter. Should one override the other or should one be bent in favor of the other?

To evangelical Christians in my community this was a crucial case. They felt their religious freedom was at stake. I heard that the Southland Church, the largest evangelical church in town, , held a fast and vigil the night before the decision was announced. Their prayers went unanswered.

TWU is an evangelical Christian postsecondary school that sought to open a law school that would require its students to sign a Covenant Agreement (‘Covenant’) that prohibits “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.” That covenant prohibits conduct throughout the 3 years of law school even when students are off campus in the privacy of their own homes.

The Law Society of British Columbia (‘LSBC’) is the regulator of the legal profession in BC and implemented a resolution declaring TWU’s proposed law school was not an approved faculty of law because of its mandatory covenant. It felt that the covenant was discriminatory against the LGBTQ community and others. TWU and one of its students made an application to court to compel LSBC to approve its law school arguing that its failure to do so violated its religious rights protected by s. 2(a) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (‘Charter’). The SCC upheld the decision of the LSBC and hence the proposed law school is notapproved in BC. Other provinces may follow the same course of action.

Was the SCC right or are the protesters at Southland right? The reasons of the court were long and complicated. I would recommend that anyone interested in this subject read those reasons in their entirety. It is difficult to fairly précis the decisions. All in all 7 SCC judges agreed with LSBC and 2 dissented agreeing with TWU.

The nub of the matter is that law school seats are a treasured benefit. Hundreds of people, across Canada apply for each seat. TWU would have had 60 seats available for its graduates and it was clear to all that TWU’s Covenant would have effectively closed the door to the vast majority of LGBTQ students. Those who would have been able to sign the Covenant would have had 60 more law school seats per year to apply for than LGBTQ students. In short LGBTQ students would have fewer opportunities relative to others. Should that have been allowed? The majority of the SCC said “no”. The SCC held that this would undermine true equality of access to legal education and by extension the legal profession. According to the majority of the SCC “substantive equality demands more than just the availability of options and opportunities–it prevents the violation of essential human dignity and freedom” and “eliminates any possibility of a person being treated in substance as ‘less worthy’ than others.”

TWU admitted that eliminating the mandatory Covenant, which is what LSBC required, would not prevent any believing member of their community from adhering to their beliefs. Rather it said removing the Covenant was an interference with their members’ beliefs that they must be in an institution with others who shared or respected their practices on sexual relations.

The majority of the 7 judges (5 of them) disagreed with TWU holding that the impact of the decision of the LSBC was “of minor significance” to the religious freedom of the TWU community.  The Chief Justice McLachlin and one other judge  admitted it was of morethan minor significance. butnonethelessagreed that the Covenant could not lawfully be required. I find her judgment the most interesting.

First, because TWU is a private institution, the Charter does not apply to it and it is allowed to discriminate against the LGBTQ community (even though I would argue it ought not to do that because it is not right to do so). But the TWU insistence on the mandatory Covenant is a discriminatory practice because it imposes a burden on LGBTQ people solely on the basis of their sexual orientation. Married heterosexual law students can have sexual relations, while married LGBTQ students may not! The Covenant “singles out LGBTQ students” (and others I would add) “as less worthy of respect and dignity than heterosexual people and reinforces negative stereotypes against them,” the Chief Justice said. Those LGBTQ students who insist on equal treatment will have less access to law school and hence the practice of law than heterosexual students. Heterosexual students can choose from all law schools without discrimination, where one law school would only be available to LGBTQ students willing to endure discrimination.  This, the court determined, is a harmcaused by the exercise of religious freedom by TWU.

The LSBC is duty bound to protect the public interest and preserve and protect the rights and freedoms of everyone, including the LGBTQ people. The religious freedom of TWU stops at the point where it harms others and infringes on their rights. The LSBC was within its rights to refuse to condone practices that treat certain groups as less worthy than others. I would respectfully suggest that members of the Southland Church Community should also refuse to condone such practices on the part of TWU.

The Chief Justice admitted that this decision has negative impacts on the religious freedom of the TWU community and these were of more than minor significance. Yet she accepted the position of the LSBC that it could not condone a practice that discriminates by imposing burdens on the LGBTQ community on the basis of sexual orientation, with negative consequences for the LGBTQ community, diversity, and enhancement of equality in the legal profession. The Law Society was faced with an either-or decision  on which compromise was impossible–either allow the mandatory Covenant in TWU’s proposal to stand, and thereby condone unequal treatment of LGBTQ people, or deny accreditation and limit TWU’s religious practices . In the end, she said, “after much struggle the LSBC concluded that the imperative of refusing to condone discrimination and unequal treatment on the basis of sexual orientation outweighed TWU’s claims to freedom of religion…The LSBC cannot abide by its duty to combat discrimination and accredit TWU at the same time.”

While I agree completely with the decision of the Chief Justice of Canada and the other judge who agreed with her, I want to go a step farther. I want to go beyond the narrow confines of the law and the Canadian Charter. I think it is time–no it is high time–for the evangelical religious community to take an honest look at itself and its traditional practices. It is time for it to stop using religious freedom as a shield to allow it to infringe on the rights of others. That is not the purpose of religious freedom. It is time for the evangelical community to stop causing harm to others in the name of religious freedom. That is what it tried to do in this case and d it has done so over and over again in the name of religious freedom on the basis of dubious interpretations of ancient texts. The evangelical community can and should to better.




Scott Turow is a fine writer of legal fiction. I know a lot of people enjoy the novels of John Grisham. So do I, but Grisham is not a great writer. Scott Turow is a very good writer. “Great” might be too strong a word, but not by much. That is the difference.

Limitations is one of Turow’s legal thrillers. But like all good books–in fact like all good art–the real subject is empathy. The book is designed to make us walk in the shoes of someone else. No it is designed to make us walk in the shoes of others. The book explores the connections between people and the world. It shows how they (and of course, we) are all linked. We all have affinity for each other and for the world in which we are located. Great literature is like religion. The original meaning (I would even say the correct meaning) of “religion” is connection or linkage. Art and religion are what link us. They are metaphors by definition.

The story of the book is the problems encountered by an appeal court judge who is given a difficult case to decide.  The appeal court consists of 3 judges. 2 of the judges have quickly decided what they think and they are on opposite sides. Of course, the case is not as simple as the other 2 judges make it out to be. So the protagonist George Mason effectively must decide the difficult case. He has to agree with one or the other. And truth, as always in good novels, as in life, is murky.

The case involves young men who commit a horrible crime against a young woman. They are clearly guilty, and were found guilty at the the trial, but the questioner the Appeal Court  is whether or not the case is statute barred by the Statute of Limitations. In other words is it too late to legally find them guilty?

The case becomes more difficult to decide for 2 reasons. The first is  someone is making mysterious threats against the judge. This distracts him. That makes deciding more difficult. Is the threat related to the case the judge must decide? As well, the case reverberates with the judge because of similarities to an incident in his life many years ago. As a result he feels uncommon sympathy for the 4 convicted youth of a heinous crime when perhaps he otherwise would have felt not any sympathy for them at all. And remember, sympathy or empathy is the point. How could a stellar judge, a kind man, have see any resemblance between himself and these loathsome appellants?

The judge asks his boss, the Chief Justice of the Appellate court, if he is disqualified if the case reminds him of himself. The Chief is wise, he replies, “They’re supposed to remind us of ourselves, aren’t they George? Isn’t that a quality of mercy (echoing Shakespeare’s exploration of similar themes in The Merchant of Venice)?” The judges are forced to ask themselves, “Who are we to judge?”

In the case the 4 youth clearly committed the horrible act but the legal question is whether or not the statute of limitations applies or not. Should guilty youth be acquitted for nothing more than the passage of time? The question in the book is summed up well by the judge in the final decision:

“As crimes so often do, this case has riled passions, broken hearts, and left behind a wake of lives forever disturbed. At is core, it asks us to reconsider a question the law has long pondered: how long and under what circumstances, punishment may be delayed before the balance of justice tips against it?”

People who would never want to acquit just because too much time has passed must consider that as time passes witnesses memories fade; it is more difficult for the defendants to mount a defence because evidence has dispersed, and should accused people be kept hanging, waiting for justice forever? This is an important question.

Even more fundamental is the question of what is to be done when the  law (or justice) conflicts (perhaps) with empathy or fellow feeling? Which should prevail? What are the limitations to law or empathy?   Really these are the same questions that Shakespeare reflected on in his great play.

The novel invites us to consider that “suffering has many faces.” It also warns, “Sainthood is not required.” And finally, in the end, each of us must ask, was justice done?

I urge you to consider this book. Its worth the read.

Concentration Camps Arizona Style: Pink Undies

Some of this stuff is impossible to make up. No one would believe it if it were fiction.       There is an old sheriff in town and his name is Joe Arpaio. He has announced that he is running for the US Senate in the upcoming Arizona election as a result of the resignation of Jeff Flake, the Republican who resigned to criticize Trump more freely. He is the former sheriff of the county in which I have lived for the past 4 years, Maricopa County. Sometimes this place seems like the Wild West. Now I know why. The sheriff is, as the saying goes, is a piece of work.

To begin with, the good sheriff initiated a very popular effort to round up illegal Mexicans in the County. It was hugely popular among some Arizonans–like older white people. This alone did not make Arpaio famous, but it helped.

Sheriff Arpaio first vaulted to fame in 1993 when he created an outdoor tent city in Maricopa County as a temporary makeshift prison. The sheriff created the tent city to cope with the overflow from prisons already filled to capacity, due in part to his crackdown on undocumented immigrants. We all have to remember that temperatures can reach 54 ° Celsius in Arizona in the summer. That is equal to 129 ° Fahrenheit. He added to his fame by making prisoners wear pink underwear, pink socks, and pink bedding. He said the color might deter stealing. Would you steal pink underwear? Of course would you steal white underwear?

Sheriff Arpaio caught the attention of 2 Arizona reporters Ryan Gabrielson and Paul Giblin. They had a second reason for their curiosity. They noticed that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office had blown its budget in the first couple of months in the year and wondered if the issues were related.

They found that before Arpaio stepped up his dramatic enforcement of illegal immigrants, the arrest rate in the County was about 10 %. That is poor. Yet as his officers focused on immigration crackdowns that rate dropped to less than 4%. As they conducted massive immigration sweeps in manly Hispanic neighborhoods they needed to employ 100 deputies and spent huge sums of money.

The reporters also discovered that as the Sheriff’s office was fixated on illegals, nearly everything else was neglected. The Special Victims Unit did not have time to investigate sex crimes such as rapes, which they had been created to investigate. Many other ordinary duties were neglected so that deputies could go after illegals. According to Gabrielson, “They had just ceased to do criminal investigations for other reasons and nobody was paying attention and it piled up — hundreds and hundreds of uninvestigated cases that nobody was doing anything about because the force was converting into an immigration enforcement agency.”[1] The average police response time for serious crimes dropped rapidly.

The police also stopped all kinds of cars for spot inspections, particularly if people who appeared Hispanic were in the car. Cars with white people were seldom stopped. It was clearly racial profiling. This was clear to everyone.

Joe Arpaio became so famous that The Guardian from England came to investigate. Arpaio was the rock star of American Sheriff’s. At one time the TV cameras came to see what all the fuss was about. The Guardian described the event this way,


‘Hitler! Hitler!” the prisoners chanted to the TV cameras in protest. It was February  4th 2009. More than 200 Latino men in black-and-white striped uniforms, shackled to each other, were being marched towards an outdoor unit especially for “illegal alien” prisoners in Arizona’s infamous jail, Tent City. The chants were directed at the Maricopa County sheriff, Joe Arpaio, who a few months before had called this outdoor jail close to downtown Phoenix – his own tough-on-crime creation – a “concentration camp” in a speech to political supporters at his local Italian-American club.[2] 

I have never believed that prisons should be country clubs, but a concentration camp is going a bit far. Remember it was Arpaio himself who called it a concentration camp, not some bleeding heart liberal.

Arpaio’s political career hit the skids in 2016. Many Republicans turned against him because his techniques were so costly and ineffective. First, there were numerous successful law suits filed against him and the County.

Michael Manning an Arizona litigation attorney was one of his most vocal critics even though he made a lot of money representing numerous plaintiffs in claims against the County of Maricopa. “He got away with it because people could excuse the embedded racism in his message,” Manning said. “Because he fashioned it always as: ‘I’m going to protect you from people who are out there breaking the law and threatening your lives and property.’” In other words, to return to a theme in these chronicles, Arpaio appealed to the fears of his rich constituents. That is all to easy to do in Arizona as in other places in the United States.

In 2011 an Arizona judge ordered Arpaio to stop detaining immigrants during traffic patrols, whom he suspected (without any evidence of course other than racial profiling) of being in the country illegally. Then another Arizona judge found Arpaio guilty of disobeying that court order.

Then Arpaio lost the election for Sheriff of Maricopa Count in November of 2016. His successor closed Tent City citing the astonishing costs of operating it (on average $9 million per year). His successor said, “This facility is not a crime deterrent, it’s not cost-efficient and it’s not tough on criminals.” There would be no more mandatory pink underwear. What a pity.

But Arpaio’s time in the sun was not over. He got national attention After all, there was a new sheriff in Arizona, but there was also a new President in Washington. Arpaio became the first person to be pardoned by President Donald Trump. Trump suggested Arpaio was convicted for “doing his job.”  As the CBC reported, “So was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?” Trump called out to the crowd. “I’ll make a prediction: I think he’s going to be just fine.” His prediction turned out to be right. Surprise. Trump loved him because Arpaio was perceived as being tough on illegal immigrants. That was enough for Trump. Meanwhile Gabrielson and Giblin won a Pulitzer Prize for their reporting. Only in America; only in Arizona. A concentration where prisoners have to wear pink undies.

[1] Ryan Gabrielson, “The Rise of Joe Arpaio,” East Valley Tribune (June 9, 2008)


[2] Valeria Fernández “Arizona’s ‘Concentration Camp’: Why was Tent City kept open for 24 years?” The Guardian (August 21, 2017)