Monday, September 15, 2008

A boy named sue

Nobody should be surprised that Gov. Benigno R. Fitial has filed his lawsuit against the federal government -- the move's been obvious since he first proposed it in his State of the Commonwealth Address and he consistently ignores anybody but his dwindling inner circle.

Former Office of Insular Affairs Deputy Assistant Secretary David Cohen puts it succinctly in the Saipan Tribune:
Moreover, while the lawsuit “tries to argue that the CNMI is being singled out with special restrictions that do not apply to any other community in the U.S,” the truth “is exactly the opposite. The CNMI is receiving special benefits that no other community receives under U.S. immigration law.”
I've written that before, but the Counselor does it so well. Another of my points he says better:
The governor, he added, “is essentially asking the court for protection because he’s afraid that the federal agencies will, in the future, ignore their duties under the new law and not implement it properly. Any court worth its salt would tell the governor to wait and give the feds a chance to do their jobs properly. You can’t sue public officials in advance for possible future misdeeds. You have to wait to see if those misdeeds actually occur.”


This Lone Ranger approach is arrogant enough, but the Governor evidently has such contempt for the Legislature that he's going to use funds that have not even been identified as resources:
In his Sunday statement, the governor says he “will not use any funds currently available for public services for this case” yet his spokesman, Charles Reyes, acknowledged in an interview that money obtained through government settlements will pay for it


“The governor is not prepared to get into all the technical details at this point. Of course, we'll want the Legislature's blessing,” Reyes added.

Amazing, and how exactly do you put the genie back in the bottle if the Legislature disagrees? Then again, when all of the chittering is done, Rep. Diego Benavente tells us the likely outcome:
Although lawmakers acknowledge the governor's authority to sue the federal government and to transfer funds for the suit, he added, they believe the litigation will be costly and counterproductive

With all (due) respect, and granting that the Legislature has abdicated its responsibility by giving the Governor virtually unlimited reprogramming authority, this is evidently money that has not been identified or appropriated. That attitude (again) raises the question Why do we need a Legislature?

Oh, and a quibble for the reporters; the Saipan Tribune and the Marianas Variety don't even tell us who's being sued, though the Tribune implies it by saying the suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia "which is often the venue for challenges to federal regulations-against the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor."

"Hey listen. Don't you think you're bounding over your steps ?" -- Arthur Stanley Jefferson (Stan Laurel)

9 comments:

KAP said...

Ah, over at Unheard No More: "the Office of the Governor is suing the United States of America, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, the Department of Homeland Security, US Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and the U.S. Department of Labor."

Saipan Writer said...

Nice post.

Remember when Jean Rayphand sued Froilan Tenorio on a taxpayer's suit about his misuse of money? That thought keeps flitting through my brain.

And I think the Governor's secrecy about where exactly the payment is coming from is criminal.

KAP said...

A copy of the complaint is available at cnmigov.net.
It's a PDF.

That's progress; only three years to get the government web site running again.

Saipan Writer said...

I got my copy from UNHEARD NO MORE. Haven't had time to read it, though.

As an attorney, I'm always looking for interesting arguments.

I fear, though, that the old maxim-bad cases make bad law-may come into play in this instance. I fear that the CNMI's self-governing status is likely to take a nasty hit (worse, and far more lasting from court precedence, than any blow from federalizing immigration).

Jeff said...

Cohen's quote shows exactly why it will be laughed out of court, but given enough money, lawyers will argue anything, so I'm sure Governor Nero aided by Willens, sure to get a cut, will transfer whatever meager sources the CNMI has to his legal dipshit team.

Moreover, while the lawsuit “tries to argue that the CNMI is being singled out with special restrictions that do not apply to any other community in the U.S,” the truth “is exactly the opposite. The CNMI is receiving special benefits that no other community receives under U.S. immigration law.”

KAP said...

The Governor doesn't surprise me any more, but the Legislature has got to stop rolling over like a wannabe Paris Hilton.

Anonymous said...

Oh and a quibble for you.. Unless you can't read, when the Tribune said the suit was filed "against" DHS and DOL that makes it pretty freaking clear who is being sued.
Moron

Boni said...

Instead of looking for someone to sue, shouldn't our government be looking for something productive to do?

Maroon said...

I seem to have misplaced my hard-copy of Monday's Tribune...

Anybody got an extra?

KAP