Last week Arizona State Supreme Court Chief Justice Ruth McGregor made the immigration news with reports of her partial capitulation to the Phoenix-based Los Abogados Hispanic Bar Association`s
September 12 request that she forbid the use of terms such as "illegals," "aliens,"
and "illegal immigrants"
in Arizona courtrooms. McGregor apparently didn`t lay down the law, so to speak, but she did forward the request—wink, wink, nudge, nudge—to lower courts across Arizona, and, according to the [Tucson] Arizona Daily Star
McGregor`s written response Oct. 2 thanked the association`s officials for "asking that our judges and employees refrain from using certain derogatory terms in court documents and proceedings. I have taken several steps to notify our judges of your concerns."
(Hispanic lawyers ask curbs on words, by Arthur H. Rotstein, November 11, 2008)
The Los Abogados Hispanic Bar Association`s aversion to straightforward terminology makes for a current illustration of a famous line from George Orwell`s essay, Politics and the English Language
Political language (...) is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
The group is also treading the lexical frontiers mapped out last year
by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Further, their request that Chief Justice McGregor define deviancy not merely down
, but away
, is consistent with Hispanics` across-the-board disdain for immigration law enforcement documented here
Meanwhile, Chief Justice McGregor may have interesting times ahead. Sandy Miller, one of Arizona`s irreplaceable activists — for Sandy`s classic 2006 tango with her beloved Senator John McCain, see here
— has set up a website
to keep things bubbling. She reports
When the September 12 and October 2 letters were aired on a KFYI [Phoenix] talk show on Tuesday afternoon, October 28, a judge called the broadcast to report that although Justice McGregor`s letter was a â€?suggestion,â€? there was no doubt of her intent to implement new policy with this â€?trial balloonâ€? (i.e. the â€?suggestionâ€? would become court policy if no judge demurred. And what judge would dare object to a â€?suggestionâ€? from Arizonaâ€™s Chief Judicial Officer?).The November 10 KFYI appearance of Court Communications director Cari Gerchick was an obvious and clumsy attempt at damage control with her claims that â€?no ban has been enacted.â€? Only very na??ve listeners failed to â€?listen between the linesâ€? and realize that the ban was canceled only because of citizens` outrage when the letters were publicly disclosed.Her claim that the Los Abogados letter was no different from dozens routinely circulated by Justice McGregor to all Arizona judges was ludicrous. That Ms. Gerchick expected listeners to believe that Justice McGregor circulates every incoming letter on policy to every upper court judge as well as the many superior court judges in each of 15 Arizona counties was an insult to our intelligence.Thankfully KFYI host J.D. Hayworth practiced â€?analytical listeningâ€? by replying that based on her claim, anyone (attorneys, judges, groups or individuals) would be welcome to write Chief Justice McGregor with their requests for preferential treatment disguised as â€?concernsâ€? whereupon their letters shall be given â€?equal timeâ€? and circulated to every Arizona judge as the Los Abogados letter.That tongue-in-cheek â€?conclusionâ€? isnâ€™t even remotely credible but Ms. Gerchick was in no position to object. She realized she`d painted herself into a corner because she hadn`t expected to encounter analytical thinking from those without law school training. [Gerchick is an attorney.]
Hurray for Sandy Miller! And hurray for [former Congressman] J. D. Hayworth
Now, would you like to channel your outrage at the "Judge Ruths"
of the world? Sandy has cooked up an essentially painless way for you to help
. She`d like patriotic citizens from all over the country
to sign on to her formal complaint
to Arizona`s Commission on Judicial Conduct regarding Chief Justice McGregor`s "malfeasance and unethical conduct."
See all the details at her site
. The deadline to sign on is this Friday, November 21, 2008.
(Although I spoke directly with Sandy on Monday evening, November 17, I didn`t get it clear as to whether the actual language of the formal complaint against McGregor is posted at the site. It doesn`t appear to be.)
As Sandy says of her beloved Chief Justice, "She wants to ban words in court that are used in federal law!" Let`s give Judge Ruth something to remember!