Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Arizona Sen. John McComish On Why He Opposes Birthright Citizenship Bills and Their Possible Outcome; Arizona Has "Greater Issues To Deal With"

A couple of weeks ago, the Arizona Senate Judiciary Committee held a lengthy hearing on two bills that would address the issue of the 14th Amendment (to the U.S. Constitution) and birthright citizenship.  Eventually, sponsor Sen. Ron Gould (R-LD3) pulled the bills from the committee once he realized that at least two of the Republicans were going to vote them down.  He brought them over to the more friendly Appropriations Committee, where they were approved yesterday, pushing them toward the Floor.

The question of what happened in the Judiciary Committee is still relevant, as it may give some insight into the future of these bills.  Arizona's Politics sat down and spoke with Sen. John McComish (R-LD20) last week about his role in the proceedings.  McComish is one of the five GOP Senators on the 8-person committee; Sen. Adam Driggs (R-LD11) - an immigration attorney - had made it clear through his questioning of the proponents' witness that he was disinclined to vote for the bills.

At some point in the long hearing, Gould asked McComish where he stood.  “I never hid what my conclusion was," said McComish. "The sponsor asked me towards the end of discussion, and I told him. At that point, he decided to hold the bill(s).”

When asked why he decided to oppose the bills, McComish rattled off a few factors: 

“There are multiple reasons. It is the settled constitutional law of the land. Adjudicated by the U.S. Supreme Court…. I have read the debate on the floor (of the U.S. Congress) in the 1860’s, and it is very clear that the intention was any newborn I the U.S. is a citizen....  ‘Under the jurisdiction’ means just that… subject to our laws.”
McComish noted that he looked up the Latin, while another Senator looked it up in a 19th century dictionary, both looking for the intent that those who passed the 14th Amendment might have meant. 

McComish realizes that even though it has been settled constitutional law for a long time, birthright citizenship may not be the best policy for the United States in this day and age. Nevertheless, “if it is time, let somebody else do it. Arizona has had its time in the drum; we don’t need to be in the lead on this. We have greater issues to deal with, such as the economy and the deficit.”

Finally, McComish predicted that the bills would be moved forward by the Appropriations Committee.  But, as far as the eventual outcome, he predicts that “it will be very close. There is one scenario where it could be 15-15.”

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