Thursday, Sep 29, 2016
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Valuable vetoes

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer last year embraced a notorious anti-immigration law in her state, citing bizarre — and unproved — tales of beheadings in the desert. More recently, though, she has displayed what a former critic aptly described as an attack of sanity.

The Republican governor has confounded her conservative supporters by vetoing two pieces of legislation they favored: a bill that would have mandated proof of U.S. citizenship to run for president, and another that would have allowed guns on college campuses.

The so-called birther bill was too much for Governor Brewer, who called it “a bridge too far.” It would have made Arizona the first state to require presidential candidates to prove their natural-born citizenship. They would have had to providing a birth certificate and other corroborating evidence, including baptismal or circumcision certificates, to gain a place on the state ballot.

The measure, driven by debunked but still widely believed claims that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States, had sailed through both houses of the Republican-dominated Arizona Legislature. In her veto message, Ms. Brewer properly called the bill a “huge distraction” that would have tarnished the state’s reputation and its ability to remedy an ailing economy.

Governor Brewer supported her state’s controversial anti-immigration law, which courts have invalidated twice. That didn’t do Arizona any favors, either. But give the governor her due in this instance.

Ms. Brewer, a gun-rights advocate, also vetoed a measure that would have partially lifted Arizona’s ban on guns on college and university campuses. The gun lobby is pushing to get weapons on campuses nationwide, but memories of the Virginia Tech massacre four years ago this month are proving problematic to that effort.

Ms. Brewer complained that the Arizona guns-on-campus bill was poorly written and might have been interpreted to apply to public schools. That isn’t exactly a resounding argument, but the end result will suffice.

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