Right-wing media respond to AZ ruling with unhinged rhetoric

Media conservatives have responded with a torrent of unhinged rhetoric to an Arizona judge's ruling that blocked parts of the state's immigration law from taking effect. For example, Rush Limbaugh suggested the ruling would prevent the state from defending itself from an “invasion,” and Jeffrey Kuhner suggested Arizona should consider secession.

Right wing's rhetoric on immigration ruling includes talk of “invasion” and secession

Limbaugh suggests judge's decision prevents Arizona from “defend[ing] itself from an invasion.” Responding to Judge Susan Bolton's July 28 decision to block parts of the Arizona immigration law from taking effect, Limbaugh said: “I guess the judge is saying it's not in the public interest for Arizona to try to defend itself from an invasion. I don't know how you look at this with any sort of common sense and come to the ruling this woman came to.” [Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show, 7/28/10]

Limbaugh predicts that “Muslim terrorists” will “have a field day in Arizona.” On the same show, Limbaugh also stated that “we now have a situation where the federal government, through the executive branch and this court, is saying that state and local law enforcement is essentially barred from inquiring into the legal status of individuals who are stopped incidental to other potential violations. That's the net effect.” Limbaugh went on to say: “Muslim terrorists are going to have a field day in Arizona. You cannot ask them where they're from. You cannot even act like we know where they're from. You cannot ask them for their papers. We can ask you for yours. Not them.” [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 7/28/10]

Wash. Times' Kuhner asks, “Should Arizona secede?” In a July 29 column headlined “Should Arizona secede?” The Washington Times' Jeffrey Kuhner stated that the ruling “is unilaterally disarming the people of Arizona in the face of a dangerous enemy” and that “leftist judges -- elitist activists in black robes -- override democratic legitimacy.” Kuhner warned that the United States is in danger of becoming a “socialist superstate” and claimed, “The choice is becoming starkly apparent: devolution or dissolution.” Kuhner's column was promoted by the Fox Nation.

Hannity, Doocy suggest federal government “won't protect” Arizona residents. In an interview with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, Sean Hannity stated on the July 28 edition of his Fox News show, “Is it a fair interpretation in your mind -- today's court ruling -- to say that it appears that the federal government won't protect American citizens, won't enforce the law, and also, on the other hand, now the state of Arizona, that you can't do it either?” Similarly, on the July 29 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy asked, “If the feds won't protect the people and Governor Brewer can't protect her citizens, what are the people of Arizona supposed to do?”

Beck suggests that ruling is suicidal. In a discussion with Kris Kobach, a law professor and Republican candidate for Kansas Secretary of State who helped write Arizona's immigration law, Glenn Beck stated that with the judge's ruling, “you have a suicide pact with the Constitution now for states”:

KOBACH: But the Supreme Court has held for centuries, and it's clear that our Constitution requires, that if Congress is going to push the states off the field, it has to be an act of Congress and it has to be an unmistakable statement by Congress that the states are no longer welcome. But what the Obama adm --

BECK: But wait, they're not no longer welcome in this. I think the Congress has been clear. They're not welcome in this. However, they're not doing the job. And so you have a self -- you have a suicide pact with the Constitution now for states. [Fox News' Glenn Beck, 7/29/10]

Savage: “The judge is a criminal who should be put in jail.” Radio host Michael Savage responded to the ruling by calling Bolton a “criminal,” adding that "[i]n a sane country, she'd be arrested."

SAVAGE: She's a criminal, in essence. In essence, the judge is a criminal. I mean, you want to add it up? Men died for the sanctity of the ballot box. So, if someone interferes with the ballot box and says you can't vote or your vote is nullified, that's tampering. She's a criminal. In a sane country, she'd be arrested. What do you want me to say here? The judge is a criminal who should be put in jail. In a sane country, any judge who said, “You know what? You may have voted, but drop dead. I'm bigger than you. Your vote doesn't count” -- that's a criminal. [Talk Radio Network's The Savage Nation, 7/28/10]

Seth Motel is an intern at Media Matters for America.