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Valley Park . That's Valley Park , Missouri . It's a little town of about 6,500 souls, located only a few miles from where I'm typing these words, in St. Louis County . I've been there many times, and never expected to find it in national news.
What made it--briefly--newsworthy is a law passed by the Valley Park government. Yes, like every hamlet, village, town, city, or metropolis in the U.S. (and probably anywhere else in the world), the people of Valley Park saddled themselves with public servants, calling themselves 'government,' and issuing orders to their sovereigns. They call these whims, fancies, and good (maybe) ideas 'laws,' and fully expect them to be obeyed, or else. The law which nudged Valley Park into a moment of national prominence was one prohibiting the hiring of illegal immigrants. They did this in 2006, initially, but a local St. Louis County judge struck down the law. They revised it, and it was struck down again.
Now just a minute! Is Valley Park facing some crisis brought about by the hiring of illegal aliens? No such claim has been made, to my knowledge. The city is 89% white, with a Hispanic population of 2.3%. So what's the problem?
Nonetheless, the city again passed a law against hiring illegal aliens in 2007, but this time without the prior provision against renting to them. The law also required those applying for a business license to swear, via affidavit, that they would not knowingly hire 'unlawful' workers. So: in Valley Park , you can now rent a room to an illegal alien, but not offer him a job. (How's he going to pay his rent?)
It happens that this latest version of the law is probably superfluous, since Missouri state law contains similar provisions. Nonetheless, Valley Park has spent $250,000 in litigation on this issue, culminating in three judges of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the law against a challenge by a Valley Park landlord who occasionally hires people for various jobs on her property. The decision, said Valley Park 's lawyer, 'has nationwide consequences.' Maybe that's a good thing. One cannot too often point out the absurdities of government.
Article 1, Section 10, the U.S. Constitution: No State shall--pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts--.' Is that at all confusing? Does it require legal expertise to understand? If words mean what they say (and if they don't, why pay any attention to a 'law' in Valley Park ?) then a lady in Valley Park , Missouri , who wishes to contract with a person who might be an illegal alien (need she ask, or, for that matter, care?) has every right to do so. That right is guaranteed by the Constitution, to which the officials of Valley Park have probably sworn an oath of adherence, but even if they haven't, they would hardly admit that they consider it irrelevant.
My legal naivet' is such that I've always thought laws were enacted, when absolutely necessary (the fewer laws the better) to protect rights. This Valley Park case is about as clear an indication as one might ever find (although the competition is daunting) of a law which does precisely the opposite: it tramples a right, and punishes someone for exercising it. And why? Is someone injured in any way by a person hiring an illegal alien? You could argue that, were it not for some illegal alien, a full fledged native-born son might have gotten that job. But it isn't claimed that the landlord in the present case might give illegals preferential treatment. I'm sure she would have been willing to hire natives, were they agreeable to the terms she offered. For that matter, what would be wrong with giving certain individuals preferential treatment? Even Congressmen, undoubted pillars of virtue and rectitude, have been known to hire relatives, friends, or even lovers, however ill-qualified.
And speaking of Congress, what federal issue is involved in this local case? There are very few federal areas in Missouri , and Valley Park is not one of them. Yes, illegal immigration is a federal issue, but the question before the federal court involved the 'legality' of hiring such aliens, not their mere emigration into the United States .
Yet the attorney for Valley Park remains enthusiastic about the law, superfluous or not, declaring that the publicity garnered by the case is apparently deterring businesses in Valley Park from hiring illegal immigrants. (One cannot help wonder whether, if every adult in Valley Park hired an illegal alien, it would make any difference to anyone, anywhere). Or, in other words, his efforts have succeeded in violating the right of the citizens of that city to contract with whomever they want, for any legitimate purpose. 'The law,' he said, 'appears to be having the desired affect. People who are inclined to violate the law by hiring illegal aliens are inclined to go elsewhere.' And just how will this benefit the people who pay his salary? Will an exodus of entrepreneurs (if any) from Valley Park in some way profit that hamlet?
If there's going to be a revolution in this country, it will be triggered by the actions of government. The straw that will break the camel's back will be just one more 'law' that is so blatantly absurd, unjust, and arbitrary that people will, in effect, nullify it by ignoring it. Who knows? Perhaps the revolution may start in Valley Park , Missouri !