LEGISLATURE | Fremont Assemblymember Bob Wiekowski represents one of the largest concentrations of lawful permanent immigrants in the state. Giving this group the right to pass judgment on their peers in court is a politically expedient move. However, Gov. Jerry Brown did not agree with the premise.
Brown pulled out his veto pen Monday against Wieckowski’s bill granting lawful permanent immigrants the ability to serve on juries. “Jury service, like voting, is quintessentially a prerogative and responsibility of citizenship,” Brown said in his veto message. Noting the bill would allow those not yet citizens to serve on juries, he added, “I don’t think that’s right.”
Wieckowski, a second-term assembly member with sights on running for the State Senate next year, said he was disappointed by Brown’s veto. In fact, the governor’s use of the veto pen has been few and far apart over the past month. Bills approved by the Legislature have until Oct. 13 to be signed by the governor.
The rationale for allowing non-citizens to serve was based on the idea lawful residents are already part of the communities they live. Why should they not be able to uphold the laws they, too, abide? A larger pool of potential jurors, of which Wieckowski said there is a shortage in the state, would have also been alleviate by his bill, he has said in the past. “I don’t see anything wrong with imposing this civic obligation on immigrants who can spend the rest of their lives in the United States,” said Wieckowski.
Opponents of Assembly Bill 1401 said it would have diluted the meaning of becoming an American citizen and give fewer impetus for striving to attain such status.