Rep. King 'Convinced' Obama Ordered Holder to Sue Arizona

Published July 26, 2010

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This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," July 23, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

RICH LOWRY, GUEST HOST: We are 102 days away from the November elections and with the government's lawsuit against the state of Arizona, the immigration debate will very much be on voter's minds.

The federal judge heard arguments in the case yesterday. And as of now it looks like the law is here to stay, at least part of it. Judge Susan Bolton said she would not totally block the law which goes into effect late next week. And a final ruling is also likely to come down next week.

The administration is claiming its opposition to the Arizona immigration law is a matter of principle. It appears that politics are at play as well. The Washington Post reported earlier this week that the White House officials say the Republicans' approach to the law will alienate Latinos.

On the flipside it seems clear that the administration sees political advantages in filing this lawsuit, at least in the long term.

But is that an accurate assessment?

Joining me now with analysis is Iowa congressman, Steve King.

Congressman, welcome. Thanks so much for joining us.

CONGRESSMAN STEVE KING, R-IOWA: Thanks for having me, Rich.

LOWRY: Now, this judge, Susan, is a Democratic appointee. And she sounds very skeptical I think very understandably. This lawsuit just on common sense grounds makes no sense. Basically you have the federal government saying we don't want a state to tell us about people who are here illegally, violating federal law. That makes no sense.

KING: It is what it sounds like, Rich. And we know that the law was written in order to mirror federal law and not to go expand beyond the limits of federal law. When the federal government takes a position it's a matter of principle. I'd be curious what principle that might be.

I'm convinced and I think that Eric Holder essentially admitted that President Obama ordered him to sue Arizona. And I asked him before the Judiciary Committee when he was under oath point to a constitutional violation, a statutory violation or a federal case law that Arizona law would have violated. He could not answer any of those questions. That was about five minutes before Ted Poe asked him, have you read the bill?

It was politically motivated. He admitted essentially that the president ordered him to sue Arizona.

What was principle? They couldn't articulate that principle, now they're trying.

LOWRY: You know, that's an excellent point. And there's a real radicalism to this lawsuit because what the administration is basically saying, the law is written by Congress, by you guys, doesn't matter. What's there on paper doesn't matter.

What basically does matter is what the administration decides to enforce by picking and choosing. So I see this suit as an assault on your institution as much as it's an assault against Arizona.

KING: Which it is. And it's a new legal principle as far as I'm concerned. They write in this — in the DOJ's lawsuit that Congress has entrusted and in fact implies that Congress has directed the executive branch to establish this careful balance between the Department of Justice, Homeland Security and the State Department.

Now this careful balance was nothing in our legislation. We expect all laws to be enforced. And they're making this careful balance argument. And then they argue that if a state interferes with that delicate balance or that careful balance, then it throws it out of balance, therefore it should be preempted.

And there's another argument that I don't know if it's made in anybody's brief at this point. But if they will argue the Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution grants the federal government exclusive authority to establish immigration law because it says that Congress shall have the power to establish an uniformed naturalization policy.

In the same sentence it says Congress shall have the authority to establish a uniformed bankruptcy policy across the country. So if this would be — if they invalidate Arizona's law on that argument it will then, I think, put the bankruptcy laws in jeopardy in all of our states as well.

LOWRY: Another piece of this that I think is absolutely absurd, they're basically saying Arizona can't stop people and ask about their status. And if there's doubt about their status, call the federal government because the government of Mexico will be upset.

And therefore, some interference with the executive's ability to conduct foreign policy. The effect of that is to outsource our immigration policy to a foreign government.

KING: You know, when you put it in that context, and it is an accurate context, I think, that it's outrageous to think that Felipe Calderon would have more to say about the immigration policy in Arizona than Jan Brewer and the people of Arizona who passed the law. That is what that boils down to.

And another one of these — concepts that Americans should be thinking about that we're not hearing is this. If the administration disagrees with Arizona's law I do believe that there's constitutional authority for Congress to pass legislation that would preempt Arizona's law. And no one from the administration that I know of has come to the Congress and ask that legislation be introduced.

LOWRY: Yes, they could write —

KING: And passed.

LOWRY: — explicitly into the law that there's a delicate balance here and Congress didn't really mean what it said when it set up these rules about who's illegal and who's not. And they won't do that obviously because they can't politically.

But, Congressman, if you take back the majority, will the Republican majority explicitly write into the law that states a law enforcement can check the status of aliens and check in with the federal government and detain them?

KING: I think that's an open question yet. I'd like to see how the courts rule on the lawsuits against Arizona. They may completely vindicate Arizona. I hope they will. And if — by my reading, I expect they will. If that's the case I will be willing to accept a Supreme Court precedent that's established that clarifies this.

But there are a number of Supreme Court — excuse me, there are a number of federal court cases that are precedents that clearly establish that the states can enforce and local governments can enforce immigration law.

But as far as passing that legislation we may find out and not have to be clarified in Congress. But I'd support it if I think we need to.

LOWRY: Great. Thanks so much, Congressman. You've been a warrior on this, keep it up.

KING: I will keep it up. Thank you, Rich.

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