Published May 14, 2010
The following is a partial transcript of the House Judiciary Committee hearing with Attorney General Eric Holder. This portion contains the exchange between Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, and Attorney General Eric Holder over whether Holder has read the Arizona immigration law:
REP. TED POE: So Arizona, since the federal government fails to secure the border, desperately passed laws to protect its own people. The law is supported by 70 percent of the people in Arizona, 60 percent of all Americans and 50 percent of all Hispanics, according to The Wall Street Journal/NBC poll done just this week. And I understand that you may file a lawsuit against the law. It seems to me the administration ought to be enforcing border security and immigration laws and not challenge them and that the administration is on the wrong side of the American people. Have you read the Arizona law?
ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER: I have not had a chance to -- I've glanced at it. I have not read it.
POE: It's 10 pages. It's a lot shorter than the health care bill, which was 2,000 pages long. I'll give you my copy of it, if you would like to -- to have a copy.
Even though you haven't read the law, do you have an opinion as to whether it's constitutional
HOLDER: I have not really -- I have not been briefed yet. We, as I said, have had underway a review of the law. I have not been briefed by the people who have been responsible -- who are responsible for that review.
POE: Are you going to read the law?
HOLDER: I'm sure I will read the law in anticipation of that briefing. I know that they will put that in front of me, and I'll spend a good evening reading that law.
POE: Well, I've gone through it. And it's pretty simple. It takes the federal law and makes it -- enacts it in a state statute, although makes it much more refined in that it actually says in one of the sections that no state or subdivision may consider race, color, national origin in implementing the requirements of any subsection of this law.
It seems to outlaw racial profiling in the law. I know there's been a lot of media hype about the -- the legislation. Do you see a difference in the constitutionality of a statute and the constitutionality of the application of that statute? Do you see there's a difference in those two?
HOLDER: Sure, there is a potential for challenging a law on its face and then challenging a law as it is applied. So there are two bases for challenging a particular statute.
POE: And when do you think you will have an opinion as to whether the law is constitutional?
HOLDER: I've used this term a lot, but I think this is -- I think relatively soon. I think that we have to -- there has been much discussion about this. The review is underway. The Department of Justice along with the Department of Homeland Security is involved in this review. And I would expect it -- our view of the law will be expressed relatively soon.
POE: You have some concerns about the statute. And it's -- it's hard for me to understand how you would have concerns about something being unconstitutional if you hadn't even read the law.
It seems like you wouldn't make a judgment about whether it violates civil rights statutes, whether it violates federal preemption concepts if you haven't read the law. So can you help me out there a little bit, how you can make a judgment call on -- on that, but you haven't read the law and determined whether it's constitutional or not?
HOLDER: Well, what I've said is that I've not made up my mind. I've only made -- made the comments that I've made on the basis of things that I've been able to glean by reading newspaper accounts, obviously, television, talking to people who are on the review panel, on the review team looking at the law.
But I've not reached any conclusions as yet with regard to -- I've just expressed concerns on the basis of what I've heard about the law. But I'm not in a position to say at this point, not having read the law, not having had the chance to interact with the people who are doing the review, exactly what my position is.