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Outlawing "Illegal" and "Aliens" By: Tom Fitton
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, November 20, 2008


Judicial Watch's has been involved in a back-and-forth with the office of the Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice over the last week. It all started on November 6th when Judicial Watch posted an entry on its "Corruption Chronicles blog" regarding an attempt by the Arizona Supreme Court to advise all judges in Arizona to refrain from using "derogatory" terms such as "illegal alien" and "immigration crisis" in court documents and proceedings after the Hispanic Bar Association lobbied the court to take action to eliminate the use of these terms.

Arizona's Supreme Court chief justice has agreed to enforce the Hispanic Bar Association's demands of banning the terms "illegal" and "aliens" in all of the state's courtrooms. Claiming that the terms are inflammatory, the president of Arizona's Hispanic Bar Association, (known as Los Abogados) has asked state Supreme Court Chief Justice Ruth McGregor to stop using them at trials or hearings because they create perceptions of judicial bias.

In a strongly worded letter to the chief justice, Los Abogados' president says attaching an illegal status to a person establishes a brand of contemptibility, creates the appearance of anti-immigrant prejudice and tarnishes the image of courts as a place where disputes may be fairly resolved.

It further points out that no human being is illegal and that a national Hispanic journalism association has roundly criticized the reference for dehumanizing a segment of the population. The letter goes on to criticize the state's High Court for using the term "illegals" in at least two opinions and the term "illegal aliens" in dozens of others.

It concludes with a list of acceptable and unacceptable terms relating to illegal immigration. Among those the group wants banned are; immigration crisis, immigration epidemic, open borders advocates, anchor babies and invaders. Among the acceptable terms are foreign nationals, unauthorized workers and human rights advocates. Click here to see the entire list as well as Chief Justice McGregor's promise to enforce the requests.

Cari Gerchick, spokesman for the Arizona Supreme Court, was none too pleased with this blog entry, which created a firestorm of negative press for the court. She called Judicial Watch to register her objection to the story, which she labeled "slanderous." (Just as an FYI, when the word "slanderous" is thrown around, it is often interpreted as a threat because "slander" is a legally actionable offense. And we took it as such.)

As we stated in our letter, dated November 7, 2008:

We are surprised and disappointed that your spokesperson would describe Judicial Watch's blog entry as "slanderous," thereby implicitly threatening some form of legal action by the Court against Judicial Watch on account of this blog entry…We believe our blog entry more than fairly represents the correspondence between you and the bar association and does nothing more than inform the public of an extraordinary request by members of the bar to censor the word choice of the Arizona courts - a request to which you appear to have acceded.

Ms. Gerchick is emphatic that the Chief Justice banned no words. We stand by our original story.

We ran a few searches on the court decisions in the past 10 years. In US Courts of Appeal, the courts have used the phrase "illegal alien" in 1,833 times. In US District Courts, the term was used in 1,091 cases. In Arizona, combining both federal and state court usage, the term illegal alien was used 792 times. It also appears that the term "alien" is used in 645 statutes.

Big Brother, if he wants these terms banned, has a lot of suppressing to do.

The illegal immigration lobby wants to control the illegal immigration debate by controlling language. And they want to undermine the rule of law by restricting the ability of the courts to talk straight about violations of our nation's immigration laws. It is shocking that any court would be complicit in this.


Tom Fitton is president of Judicial Watch.


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