What George Wallace and Jerry Brown have in common

By Bernard Goldberg
Posted 4/8/18

Who knows where George Wallace went after he left this life, but wherever he is, he must be smiling.

He and the other segregationist governors of the Old South didn't want the federal government telling them how to live their lives. On June 11, …

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What George Wallace and Jerry Brown have in common

Posted

Who knows where George Wallace went after he left this life, but wherever he is, he must be smiling.

He and the other segregationist governors of the Old South didn't want the federal government telling them how to live their lives. On June 11, 1963, Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door at the University of Alabama to bar two black students from entering.

Some 50 years later the old "state's rights" argument has resurfaced. But now it's not the governor of a regressive state, but the governor of the progressive state of California, along with the sophisticated liberals in the state legislature, who think they can pick and choose which federal laws are worthy of compliance - and which may be undermined.

So they've pretty much declared California a sanctuary state. As for federal immigration laws, the enlightened politicians in Sacramento don't think any more of them than George Wallace thought of federal civil rights laws.

Last year, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 54, which among other things prohibits state and local law enforcement officials from informing federal officers when an illegal immigrant who has committed a crime is being released from custody.

Ah, but this is not in the same moral universe, progressives will tell you, as what Gov. Wallace and the others did. Wallace shunned federal law to enforce an evil way of life. Jerry Brown and the Democratic legislature want to help people - not hurt them. They want immigrants who are here illegally to feel free to work with the police if they know something about a crime. If they're afraid of being arrested, or even deported, they'll stay in the shadows and remain silent.

There's some truth to that. But what about the times when an illegal immigrant is released from custody and federal agents are not informed - and he goes out and shoots and kills a young woman on a pier in San Francisco?

And what about that political stunt in Oakland, California, in February when Mayor Libby Schaaf warned illegal aliens of a secret raid by immigration agents? That reckless decision put her own citizens in danger by allowing illegal immigrants, many of whom had committed crimes, to avoid arrest.

How is that making things safer for the community?

Now the federal government is suing California, arguing that states cannot legally undercut federal immigration laws. And several communities in California have taken sides - against the new law.

On March 27, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted to condemn the sanctuary law and is now working on a way to join the lawsuit on the side of the federal government. Eight days later the city council in Escondido, California, followed Orange County's lead and voted to file a brief in support of the federal government against the state's sanctuary cities law.

And the rebellion is spreading. Other California communities are also taking sides: aligning themselves with the federal government.

And let's consider where California's supposed benign thinking could conceivably lead us. What if the Massachusetts legislature decides it doesn't want to grant rights to gun owners on grounds that gun violence is a danger to the people of the state? What if they think the Second Amendment is up for grabs, that states can honor court decisions on guns - or not? What if Nebraska thinks too much fake news is being passed off as the real thing, that the First Amendment is an irritant and that journalistic bias shouldn't be tolerated or legally protected?

The American people, by and large, wouldn't tolerate such state-sponsored anarchy. So why should we tolerate California's decision to make an end run around federal law? Because Jerry Brown and his allies mean well?

Sometimes it's important to state the obvious, so here goes: Jerry Brown is not George Wallace. Jerry Brown is a well-educated, thoughtful man. George Wallace was a populist ex-boxer who played to the worst instincts of the people in his state - until he dramatically changed his ways late in life.

Still, Gov. Brown is traveling down the same pot-holed road as Gov.r Wallace once did. Jerry Brown says the federal government is "going to war" against his state. He's convinced he's doing the right thing for the right reasons. So did George Wallace.

Bernie Goldberg is an opinion writer and a news and media analyst for Fox News' O'Reilly Factor. He is a graduate of Rutgers University and a member of the school's Hall of Distinguished Alumni.