The Claremont Independent had the opportunity to interview retired Judge Steven Bailey, a candidate for California Attorney General. Judge Bailey is a part of the Golden State Coalition which is a slate of constitutional conservatives running for California public office in the 2018 elections. The California primaries will be held on June 5, 2018 and the general election will be held on November 6, 2018. Bailey was kind enough to answer some questions I had for him about issues that are important to voters in California and that are especially pertinent to college students. The interview covered a variety of topics including DACA, sanctuary cities, the legalization of marijuana, Title IX on college campuses, and free speech on college campuses. What follows are the questions posed to Bailey and his answers, edited for concision and clarity.
CI: What made you want to run for Attorney General of California?
JB: My background makes me a uniquely qualified candidate for the office of Attorney General. I also feel that the policies being implemented in California do not work and they are not particularly compassionate.
CI: What part about your background do you feel makes you uniquely qualified?
JB: I’ve spent almost 19 years as a practicing attorney and I am a certified specialist in Criminal Law. I started my career as a deputy director in the State Department of social services. I then spent eight and a half years as a judge in El Dorado County. The primary area that most people know [in El Dorado County] is South Lake Tahoe, and as such I had every basically every type of case. I did the civil calendar, I did criminal, I did probate, I was the presiding juvenile court judge for years in the county, I did maritime cases, and I did extraditions between California and Nevada on at least a weekly basis. It was a unique opportunity to serve the people of California and gain experience over a variety of case types an Attorney General should have experience in. Spending time as both a defense attorney and a judge gives one an entirely different perspective of what justice is.
CI: One of the hot button issues on college campuses is DACA. What are your feelings about DACA?
JB: The fact of the matter is that it’s never going to happen that you can take all of the people who qualify under DACA and deport them. However, the problem is that you can’t by executive order just create a right that is ever going to be upheld in a nation where the rule of law is supreme. Ultimately the Supreme Court, if Congress doesn’t resolve these issues, is going to rule in the favor of the Trump administration and all these individuals who came here. All these young adults are going to end up being deportable again. It’s nice to pretend like you’re solving a problem through DACA and executive orders, but ultimately it’s Congress’ responsibility. Both Republicans and Democrats are part of the problem because it’s great fundraising for them, and instead of solving the problem, they’ve done what they typically do and that’s kicking the problem down the road.
CI: On the topic of sanctuary cities, California recently declared itself to be a sanctuary state—what do you think of this decision?
JB: Immigration rules are the responsibility of the federal government. The state doesn’t have a role in determining immigration policy. That was determined absolutely by the United States Supreme Court in its last session when it overruled the Arizona law—where Arizona presumed it could enforce Federal immigration law and the Supreme Court said, “no, you can’t.” This whole business of sanctuary state, sanctuary city or sanctuary anything really has no support in case law and has no support under federal-state joint jurisdiction to pretend that it does. It does a disservice to the immigrant community here in California because it presumes by calling it sanctuary, that someone is going to be protected when in fact there really is no protection. Worse yet, when they wrote the sanctuary state law here in California, the only people that they actually got down to protecting were those who were committing crimes, who we wouldn’t want to turn back onto the street because they’re the ones victimizing the immigrants there, and victimizing all of our other communities. What is it that we’re thinking when we’re out protecting the criminal when we ought to be protecting our citizens and those who are here trying to comply with our basic laws. And yet our California legislature set up a scheme that is a fraud—that is going to lead to increased crime. It’s going to create less protection and less safety in our communities. So, I’m an absolute rock-hard opponent of the sanctuary state policy, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want Congress to solve the problem.
CI: The Claremont Colleges have declared themselves to be sanctuary colleges—is there a distinction in your mind between sanctuary cities and sanctuary campuses?
JB: Universities are not required under the law to do the federal bidding in terms of going out and enforcing immigration law; nothing Claremont’s doing is out of the ordinary or unusual. The same is true with local law enforcement. We’re not wired to go out and do the bidding of the federal government, but at the same time you can’t obstruct federal agents and you can’t obstruct the enforcement of federal law.
CI: Legalization of marijuana is another issue, and one that has a lot of support on college campuses and among the youth. Do you support legalization?
JB: I think classifying marijuana as a schedule one is a mistake on the federal side. The reason for that is because schedule one assumes that there’s no medicinal value in that particular drug. I think that’s been proven incorrect. It also curtails research on marijuana in this case. Marijuana has changed over the last couple decades, the people who cultivate marijuana are good farmers, and have actually enhanced the percentage of THC in marijuana from in the 1960s—it might be roughly three percent- It’s now running at 18 to 22 percent. I have had kids in front of me from my time serving on juvenile court, that I had seen for a period of time, that became paranoid from using marijuana. Marijuana impairs the brains ability to function properly and it has a negative impact on a significant number of users. What we’ve done with the wholesale legalization of marijuana down to the recreational level is creating a long-term public health crisis.
CI: As Attorney General, you would potentially be in a position to defend California’s legalization of marijuana through Proposition 64 from the federal govt. As Attorney General would you defend Proposition 64?
JB: I’m not running for king; I’m running to be the attorney general of California. The voters passed Proposition 64. Whether I think it’s the best public policy is immaterial. My intent as attorney general has to be to defend the laws of the state of California. If they’re unconstitutional, I have a duty under my oath as an attorney to tell the courts that I believe they’re unconstitutional, but in things like marijuana, that’s not a constitutional question. As Attorney General, my duty is to defend the laws of the state and I intend to do that, whether I have reservations about marijuana or not.
CI: Title IX has become a big issue, and the issue of sexual assault has entered the public consciousness with movements like #Metoo. Yet there are concerns that Title IX on college campuses has been doing a disservice to male students and the process has discriminated against males accused. In fact, Pomona College recently was ordered by court to pay a male student’s legal fees after it was found that his Title IX process unfairly robbed him of his due process. What can colleges do to protect those who claim to have been assaulted without taking away the due process rights of the accused?
JB: It becomes very dicey position, but ultimately, due process means due process and due process requires giving the right to all the parties to confront and cross examine accusers and witnesses. Otherwise what you have is what might be characterized as a star chamber, a group of people getting together in secret and deciding that you’re guilty before you’ve had a chance to defend yourself. There’s a reason why in our criminal justice system we grant a right to a jury trial, and we grant you the right to have counsel. We grant you the right to confront and cross-examine your accused. From my eight and a half years serving as judge, I know that there are always two sides to a story. The systems that have been set up on some of the college campuses, which by the way are getting state and federal money, have had at times an abusive system that assumes that the accusers always right and that assumption isn’t always correct. It does not work, and everyone can see it doesn’t work. Ultimately the only way to have a fair impartial system is to set one up that is uniform statewide. We have a whole administrative law process here in California for all kinds of professions, there’s no reason why the office of administrative hearings shouldn’t be charged with this kind of responsibility. Then, you don’t end up with a judge or panel who is from the university itself—you get a judge who is in fact fair and impartial—nobody has confidence in a system that is not fair and impartial.
CI: Free Speech on college campuses is a topic that is important to many students. Claremont McKenna College actually just received a green light from the watchdog organization FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) but other Claremont Colleges like Pomona College still have only a yellow rating. California is unique because the Leonard Law extends first amendment protections to private institutions as well. As Attorney General, would you use your power to protect free speech on college campuses?
JB: Colleges should be the bastions of free expression. While some ideas may be foreign to someone else, the campus must be a place where the ability to say it is absolutely protected. Our history of free speech and the first Amendment are unique to this country. We’ve always had the protection to say what you think, when you want to, even if its maybe inappropriate, but you get to say it. Unfortunately, there are some people who have decided that free speech means anything that they’re thinking, and nothing that you’re thinking. It’s not a one-way street, the fringes on both side want to prevent the other side from speaking. We have to protect my ability to say something that is conservative, and I’ve got to be prepared to protect somebody else’s ability to say something that is not. It’s not a matter of me being offended or somebody else being offended. The absolute duty of the attorney general is to protect everyone’s right to speech and to be heard.
CI: The Claremont Colleges had a recent run in with protestors who tried to prevent Heather MacDonald from speaking. One of their complaints was that the college shouldn’t give her a platform and while she’s free to speak, the students should not be forced to have a speaker they think is problematic on campus. What are your thoughts?
JB: They have a right to not listen, but they do not have the right to prevent me from listening. So that’s where they missed the point. They think the issue of listening is that they have to go, that they’re being forced to listen. They’re not being forced to do anything, and they don’t have a right to prevent somebody from speaking. I think the government needs to be prepared to protect those rights on all sides.
Photo: Flick / Elentari86