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Over the past few weeks, we’ve noticed a lot of attention focused on Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. See, Smith is the sponsor of the Stop Online Piracy Act, a.k.a. SOPA, which has caused a huge backlash among online companies, activists and organizations. They see Smith as an evil Big Brother figure. And they’re right. Smith has become a reviled figure on Twitter. Firedoglake’s John Walker asked, “Is Lamar Smith trying to make himself the super villain on the internet?”
Now that so many others have figured out that Lamar Smith is a “super villain,” welcome to our world.
In addition to leading the effort to thwart online freedom, Smith is one of the leading anti-immigrant voices in Congress.
With his equally anti-immigrant sidekicks, Representatives Elton Gallegly (R-CA) and Steve King (R-IA), Smith held numerous immigration-related hearings last year. He attempted to demonize immigrants and to “pit minority communities against each other.” Fortunately, his efforts have largely failed. The denouement was when Smith brought in Senator David Vitter to testify at a hearing on prosecutorial discretion. As America’s Voice noted at the time, “Vitter certainly is an “expert witness”: he’s intimately familiar with the application of prosecutorial discretion. But apparently Vitter thinks he should be the only one to get a break.” And Rep. Zoe Lofgren really let Vitter and Smith have it.
In his quest to rid the U.S. of undocumented immigrants, Smith was pushing legislation called E-Verify, a massive bureaucratic quagmire, which would impact all U.S. workers. It doesn’t work. Sorta SOPA-like. So far, E-Verify hasn’t moved to the House floor because of backlash from Smith’s GOP peers.
One other thing about Smith, he’s got a really thin skin. He does not take well to criticism. In May, columnist Ruben Navarrette wrote:
You would think that the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee would have better things to do than respond to every column that mentions him.
Navarrette wrote that on immigration, Smith is trying to “create his own reality.” That’s what Smith does…regularly.
Smith also tried to engage Markos Moulitsas last summer over a column about E-Verify titled, “A failed
experiment,” which Markos wrote in The Hill. Markos blasted back in a post titled, E-Verify: Lamar Smith’s fact-free defense.
We’re just glad that others are cluing in to just how dangerous Lamar Smith is to basic freedoms. Immigrants and minorities know it all too well.