Republican Arizona governor Jan Brewer shocked some of her right wing bedfellows Tuesday by vetoing two controversial bills. A “birther bill” written as a political insult to President Obama and a bill forcing colleges to allow guns on campus were both rejected. Brewer, who signed an anti-immigration bill last year that is being challenged by the Justice Department apparently thinks GOP lawmakers have caused Arizona enough trouble already.
Bill required colleges to allow guns on campus
Brewer, who signed a bill into law last year eliminating the requirement for a concealed weapon permit in Arizona, surprised nearly everyone when she vetoed a bill that made allowing guns on college campuses mandatory. The bill was originally written to require colleges to allow guns anywhere on campus, including classrooms. After a wave of criticism from nearly everyone who would be affected by the law, Republican state senator Ron Gould, who argued that “weapon free zones” on college campuses were a violation of the Second Amendment, changed the bill to permit weapons only on sidewalks and roads. After Brewer, citing “unclear language,” vetoed the bill, university administrators, faculty members, law enforcement officials, campus police and students who strongly opposed the measure were relieved. Arizona will continue to allow the state’s colleges and universities to set their own policies for guns on campus, which they all currently ban.
Reason prevails over Arizona birther bill
When Arizona Republican Rep. Carl Seel of Phoenix wrote his birther bill, he claimed it was to help maintain the integrity of elections. Seel’s birther bill would have made Arizona the first state in the nation to require presidential candidates to submit affidavits stating a candidate’s citizenship and age. It would also require the candidate’s birth certificate and a sworn statement saying where the candidate has lived for 14 years. If candidates didn’t have a copy of the birth certificates, they could provide other documents such as baptismal or circumcision certificates. It would be up to the secretary of state (currently a Republican) to evaluate the documents and decide whether to allow the candidate’s name on the ballot. The birther bill provided no appeals process for candidates excluded from the ballot.
Brewer has another bridge to cross
Brewer, who was secretary of state until she became governor in 2009, said the birther bill could lead to “arbitrary or politically motivated decisions” when she vetoed it. She also called requiring candidates for President of the United States to submit circumcision certificates to the Arizona secretary of state “a bridge too far.” Though Brewer vetoed the bills, publicity about the controversial measures has damaged Arizona’s image in the wake of the anti-immigration bill she signed into law last summer. Opponents of that law said it was written to harass Hispanic-Americans. The Obama administration argued the U.S. Constitution gave the federal government sole authority over immigration matters. A U.S. federal judge blocked the most controversial parts of the Arizona immigration law shortly before it went into effect last July. Brewer appealed but the stay was upheld by a federal appeals court pending a Justice Department lawsuit.
New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/19/us/19arizona.html?ref=us
Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-usreport-us-arizonatre73i0d8-20110419,0,5858025.story
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