Got an opinion about Arizona's new immigration law, based on what you've heard?
Well, if you haven't already, here's your chance to read the law itself. It's not very long, and The Arizona Republic has posted the full text online, with helpful annotations from University of Arizona law professor Gabriel "Jack" Chin.
If you read it yourself, you'll have done better than several top Obama administration officials who've expressed disagreement with the law, while admitting they've only glanced at it.
Particularly of interest, given the uproar over the law's racial implications, is a section of the text that reads: "A law enforcement official or agency of this state... may not consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements of this subsection except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution."
So what uses of race do the U.S. and Arizona Constitutions permit and prohibit? Why, you can check the annotation for that.
And here's a case-in-point for why you shouldn't rely on others to accurately characterize what the law says. A recent FOX News opinion column defended the law by selectively quoting the part of the text about racial nondiscrimination, leaving out the exception at the end: "to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution." Observe:
After all, how do you take a law that clearly states the following: "A law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, or town or other political subdivision of this state may not consider race, color or national origin,” and then claim that it is racist or could lead to racial profiling?
(Full disclosure: The documents were published using a service called DocumentCloud, which was co-founded by two ProPublicans.)