*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
Contempt is the mindset of egotistical cretins that a person, or a thing, is beneath their consideration, worthless, and deserves their scorn.
There is raging contempt among conservatives for any and everything not evangelical, not Caucasian, not wealthy and not barbaric. Over the past couple of years there has been more than one occasion where some state-level Republican blatantly showed their contempt for the Constitution, federal laws and federal and state court orders. Demonstrating contempt of court is a crime consisting of disobeying a court of law and its officers; typically in the form of behavior blatantly defying the authority of that court of law.
Yesterday, the Department of Justice announced it was filing “criminal contempt-of-court” charges against one of Arizona’s, and America’s, most contemptible bigots for violating federal court orders. Sheriff Joe Arpaio has persisted in targeting and arresting countless numbers of ‘suspected’ undocumented immigrants and Latinos in Arizona despite more than one federal court order to cease and desist.
Arpaio’s department has been accused of racial profiling by regularly “detaining Latinos and ‘darker-skinned people’ in the name of public safety.” Arpaio also never ceased using his self-appointed authority to throw “alleged violators” in prison or employ racial discrimination even when ordered to stop doing so by a Federal District judge. That is contempt of court and it is also a criminal, not a civil, charge according to the Justice Department.
This defiance of federal laws and courts is a regular practice of Arpaio and his chief deputy, Jerry Sheridan who continued to target Latinos months after U.S. District Judge Murray Snow issued a court order in August for them to stop. The August order was necessary even after a 2011 federal court prohibited Arpaio’s county-level department from trying to enforce federal immigration laws; something Arpaio “allowed” his deputies to continue unimpeded even after the court’s order.
In the August order, U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow said that Arpaio may have also given false statements under oath to obstruct the court. Judge Snow left it up to federal prosecutors to bring the criminal case and they delivered Tuesday.
Judge Snow also said that Arpaio and Sheridan “have a history of obfuscation and subversion of this court’s orders that is as old as this case.” What that means in street vernacular is that besides defying a Federal Court order (contempt), Arpaio and Sheridan likely lied under oath for years like the Republicans they are. Judge Snow continued that, “There is also probable cause to believe that many, if not all, of the statements were made in an attempt to obstruct any inquiry into their further wrongdoing or negligence.”
What that means is that Arpaio probably committed perjury as well as obstruction of justice because he is an elected official. He could face serious jail time although due to his age, 84 years old, he would only be in prison for six months; if he is only convicted of misdemeanor contempt of court. A court date for his case is set for December 6.
Donald Trump has only talked about profiling Hispanics and people with “darker skin” for the sake of “public safety,” Arpaio has taken action on his own self-bestowed authority. Arpaio is a subscriber of the “constitutional sheriff” dogma proffered and embraced by un-American supporters of the Bundys’ standoffs and acts of sedition against federal authorities. The constitutional sheriff movement is dedicated to defying federal and state laws, ruled constitutional or not, that the ultra-conservative movement concludes are illegal.
According to the constitutional sheriff crowd, like the Oathkeepers, the arbiter and creator of the law of the land is each local county’s sheriff; not the U.S. Constitution, not the U.S. Supreme Court, not any federal or state legislatures and certainly not a Federal District Court. If there is a question about whether an act or law is legal and constitutional, the people have to depend on the local county sheriff because according to constitutional sheriffs, they are, for all intents and purposes, the ultimate law of the land. The Department of Justice and Federal District Court Judge Murray Snow disagree with that boneheaded idea and an anti-immigrant bigot is going to federal court.
There is an old saying attributed to the author of “The Art of War” (Sun Tzu, Sūn Wu) that says, “The Wheels of justice grind slow but grind fine.” It is like that for thousands of Latinos and “darker-skinned people” in Arizona, the wheels of justice have ground excruciatingly slow while a self-appointed tyrants dealt out punishment according to his racial bias. But now that Sheriff Joe Arpaio is facing criminal contempt of court charges in a federal case, it appears the real law of the land, and the real arbiters of justice are finally catching up to a real un-American bigot.