PROPOSITION 187: Various Interests Reel over Davis Decision
Calling Gov. Gray Davis' decision to mediate the constitutionality of Proposition 187 "enormously unusual," many legal experts agree the bid to settle out of court "is an unorthodox step that probably will not end the controversy over the initiative" (Chiang, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/17). "This is a constitutional issue. On constitutionality, either it is or it ain't. It's like being just a little bit pregnant," said veteran federal defense attorney Donald Heller (Howard, AP/Contra Costa Times, 4/18). At least one immigrant advocacy coalition is rethinking its support of the governor, the Contra Costa Times reports (May, 4/17).
The pundits weigh in:
- George Skelton, writing in the Los Angeles Times, says he thinks "Davis made the only move he realistically could have," which will "probably turn out to be good politics and also good public policy." Skelton predicts: "the anti-187 forces will achieve all they logically could have hoped for" and "the vast majority of California voters will get what they really wanted" -- a "strong statement against illegal immigration" (4/19).
- The San Diego Union-Tribune's John Marelius, noting that Davis promised to "knock heads" if the two sides couldn't come to an agreement, says: "If there is a cautious, risk-averse way to knock heads, Davis surely will find it" (4/19).
- A San Jose Mercury News editorial says "Davis may have found a way to neuter the proposition through delay or compromise," two options that are "fine" with the paper. The editorial concludes: "In sum, half of 187 is already the law by other means" and half "stands little chance of becoming the law even if it had the support of the governor ... Proposition 187 is getting from Davis the support it deserves: a half- hearted appeal" (4/18).
- Syndicated columnist Richard Reeves writes in the Mercury News that Davis "tried to dodge the bullet" and in doing so, "made a big" mistake. "There are public issues that, whatever their legal standing or political implications, are essentially moral issues. If that is true of Proposition 187 then it is not appropriate for closed negotiations by lawyers" (4/19).