Let's Do Some Math, Sheriff Joe

(Also posted on Daily Kos.)

Yesterday, I argued in Maricopa County Superior Court about whether Sheriff Joe Arpaio, "America's Toughest Sheriff," can block inmates' access to abortion. The specific issue is whether the sheriff can demand that inmates who seek abortion care prepay $300 a day in transportation and security costs. If an inmate can't come up with the money, she will be forced to carry the pregnancy to term. Of course, Sheriff Arpaio doesn't require inmates seeking other medical care to prepay for transport and security costs. We argued it is unconstitutional to make access to the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy conditional on the ability to pay hundreds of dollars. Fortunately, the judge agreed.

Ruling immediately after the arguments, the court held that the defendants are prohibited from demanding prepayment for transport and security costs. The sheriff has an uphill battle given that just a couple of years ago the Arizona Court of Appeals held that his policy of demanding a court order from inmates seeking abortion was unconstitutional. As the judge yesterday recognized, the issue of prepayment for transport costs is only a "slight extension" of the court order issue, and demanding prepayment is possibly more onerous than requiring a court order.

But the most telling part of yesterday's argument came when the judge asked us to do some math. He asked both parties how many hours since June each of us worked on the case - we agreed it was at least 40 hours each. He then assumed an hourly rate of $250 an hour and asked us to calculate the total. The answer? A lot of taxpayer money is being spent on a policy that may cost the Sheriff a few hundred dollars a year given how few women request abortion access.

Then the judge asked the question that sums it all up - he asked the sheriff's attorney to explain "the real reason" behind the policy. Clearly, it can't be that the sheriff is really worried about $300 a year.

The sheriff's attorney didn't really respond. I suppose it was a bit of a rhetorical question. Sheriff Arpaio has repeatedly acted on his animosity to abortion by denying inmates their constitutional rights. All told, he will spend thousands of taxpayer dollars fighting over $300 a year simply because he wants to impose his moral beliefs on others. The courts have repeatedly stopped these unconstitutional tactics. And we will be prepared to deal with whatever Sheriff Joe does next.

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Liberal Hater

Way to go Joe. Keep fighting these thug criminals who hate this country known as the ACLU. All liberals hate America as well as law and order and that is why they hate Joe.

The ACLU says they will keep fighting Joe no matter what. Well I think that is funny and somewhat ironic since they can't seem to totally stop him or get him booted out of office and all the while he keeps doing things his own way no matter what some liberal nutjob in a black robe says. I mean the ACLU spends more time fighting this guy than they do on anything else. Way to go Joe!

Also the Justice Department can't even stop him from fighting illegal immigration. Good luck ACLU because he's still sheriff and you can't stop him.

Philip T

SO, have any women unwilling become mothers as a result of the Sheriff's shenanigans? If so, have any sued for the full cost of raising the child? Seems like they'd have a case to me.


horaay another victory for the murder of innocent lives congratulations now even prisoners can kill even on the inside man you must feel good


I'm all for women's rights, and am pro choice, I have a hard time using tax payers money for abortions. We are the only country that gives more rights to prisoners, than to our seniors or to our legal residents. If you are one of the lucky ones who do end up in the systems, then you should be able to work your way to help pay for the crime that you committed and to help offset the amount of cost that it takes to hold you in prison. For the illegal immigrants that are here and are overcrowding our prisons, then we should send those back to their country. I don't believe that Sheriff Joe should force his beliefs onto the inmates, but if a women does want an abortion, in the first trimester only, then she should be able to. But, just remember, there are people who would love to adopt that child as well.


Some need booze while others take drugs
but Sheriff Joe just gets drunk on power.


It makes me wonder how much cash the ACLU is going to rake in because of this. The pro-abortion forces scored again. These days the most dangerous place for a child to be is in the womb.


Michelle - I agree with you in general, but need to point out that it is a fantasy that prisoners have more rights then seniors or legal residents.

Steve - the number of pro-abortionists in this country is negligible. The number of pro-rights people is significant.


A legally elected representative of the public actually doing what the voters want? OMG throw that man under the bus and install someone who knows what lip service means. GEEZ come on comrades its 2009 there is no such thing as consent of the governed anymore!!!!?!?!?!lol omg 111!!!



Luis Fernandes

this sheriff Arapaio is the worst scum that this country ever produced and the stupid people of Arizona ever elected and keep electing,nowdays he goes as far as defying court orders in the name of is subordinates.Shame on the State of Arizona.


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