Arizona turns on Tea Party with veto of Obama 'birther bill'

 

Los Angeles

It was fun while it lasted, but the state of Arizona's stint on the front line of right-wing Republicanism appeared to be over yesterday, after its Governor vetoed new laws dealing with two of the great obsessions of the Tea Party movement: the right to bear arms, and the question of whether Barack Obama was actually born in the US.

Jan Brewer, who until now had been a darling of the conservative media, first threw out new legislation that would have allowed citizens to carry firearms through university campuses. Then she scrapped a "birther bill" which would have required future presidential candidates to present their birth certificates to electoral authorities.

Her move is significant because it provides evidence that leading Republicans are starting to become concerned that the party's dramatic shift rightwards during President Obama's reign might end up damaging its chances of winning support among mainstream voters at the next election, in 2012.

Recent weeks have seen Donald Trump, the eccentric reality TV host and property developer, propel himself to second in the polls to win the party's presidential nomination by touting the conspiracy theory that Obama was actually born in Kenya and speculating that America's first black leader "may be a Muslim".

The spiel was meat and drink to many Republican voters: according to polls, more than 50 per cent believe the President was born outside the US, and just under half also think Mr Obama is a Muslim. But dwelling on such issues will inevitably alienate centrists.

Arizona found this out to its cost last year, when Governor Brewer signed a hardline anti-immigration bill which would have allowed police to stop, search, and ask for proof of citizenship from anyone who resembled an illegal alien. It sparked allegations of racism, nationwide protests, and a consumer boycott. After several months, the law was thrown out by the courts for being unconstitutional.

Governor Brewer's decision to veto the "birther" and firearm laws is doubtless designed to avoid a repeat of that saga. Explaining the move, she raised the spectre of the "birther" bill turning Arizona into a target for liberal satirists and expensive lawyers. "This is a bridge too far," she said. In any case, Ms Brewer argued, the proposed legislation would also have designated a single official as "gatekeeper to the ballot," which "could lead to arbitrary or politically motivated decisions".

The law further to liberalise gun ownership rules, meanwhile, was poorly timed, since the Arizona Senator Gabrielle Giffords is still being treated after being shot by an allegedly mentally-ill resident of Tucson who was legally able to purchase a handgun with an extended ammunition clip.

Ms Brewer added that the law was "poorly written" and would inevitably throw Arizona into conflict with federal law, leading to further time-consuming and pricey court cases.

Governors of US states tend to use the right to veto new laws sparingly, since it can be politically difficult to override the wishes of local politicians. However Mrs Brewer's move prompted admiring comments from local Democrats, who are perhaps tired of Arizona being a byword for "crazy" in political circles. "She knows that these bills are not going to help with Arizona's image," the Senator Steve Gallardo told Reuters. "All they do is put us in the national spotlight and make us look silly."

Arizona's edicts

* Lawmakers proposed a bill to nullify the granting of automatic citizenship to the children of illegal aliens – despite its status as a federal law enshrined by the 14th Amendment. It is unlikely to be passed.

* A bill allowing guns on college campuses was vetoed this week because it was "sloppily written". Arizona's governor said that it applied to schools, where firearms are already prohibited by federal laws.

* Arizona's notorious "1070" law authorising police to stop suspected illegal immigrants and demand proof of citizenship outraged the Hispanic community, which claimed innocent people would be harassed because of their skin colour.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map