Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Peyton Thomas: Blame the Libertarians!


Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Peyton Thomas has emerged as Sheriff Joe Arpaio's book-learnin' alter-ego, working with Arpaio to criminally investigate, indict, and otherwise legally intimidate anyone who dares to question the fearless lawman (as well as, now, anyone who dares to question Thomas). Thomas has gone after members of the Maricopa county council, journalists, even judges. Last month, after two prosecutors in neighboring counties publicly criticized Thomas and Arpaio's surreal, bumbling attempt at tyranny, Thomas threatened to criminally investigate them, too, calling their comments part of "an orchestrated campaign to pressure law enforcement in Maricopa County to drop charges against influential criminal defendants and suspects."

As it turns out, before running for county attorney, Thomas was an author and pundit, penning clenched-fist screeds on a variety of hot-button culture war squabbles for the usual roster of conservative outlets, including National Review, AEI, the Weekly Standard, and The Wall Street Journal. My favorite: Thomas once called parents who put their children in daycare "more respectable, less violent versions of Susan Smith." Smith, you may remember, was the woman who drowned her two sons in a lake in North South Carolina in 1995 . . . then told everyone a black guy did it.

Thomas has also written a couple books, one of which lays out his plan for restoring order to lawless America. Among Thomas's ideas: conscripted snitches. Per the Phoenix New Times:

"All able-bodied men without a criminal record should once again be subject to obligatory service for community crime surveillance."

Those men, he said, should patrol neighborhoods, armed with walkie-talkies. "Their sole duty would be to inform police of crimes in progress," he went on. "Women should not be subject to such conscription for the same reasons that they have traditionally been spared combat duty."

Then came the kicker: "Properly strong criminal penalties would deter those who might be tempted to dodge this draft [to patrol the neighborhoods] by committing a crime and acquiring a criminal record."

But Thomas saves the brunt of his ire for . . . well . . . you, Reason readers. Back in 1997, legal guru Walter Olson wrote a piece for Reason dissecting a particularly smirk-inducing article Thomas published in the Weekly Standard in which Thomas explained why libertarianism keeps him up in a cold sweat at night. Here's Olson:

The root cause of everything from street muggings and gang delinquency to rudeness at traffic lights to excessive lawsuit filing has finally been found, and it's…libertarianism. At least that's the view of Andrew Peyton Thomas, an attorney with the state of Arizona and a frequent contributor to conservative magazines. Writing in the August 26, 1996, Weekly Standard, Mr. Thomas referred to the above woes as "the libertarian-created problems of Southern California and elsewhere." Readers who hadn't known that libertarians got to run things in Los Angeles may rub their eyes, but Mr. Thomas isn't kidding one bit. He blames crime, rudeness, and litigiousness on the "live-and-let-live urban lifestyle" as spawned by "the moral laissez-faire disorder of libertarianism." Mr. Thomas, author of Crime and the Roots of Order, has made a momentous discovery: "The root of our crime problem," as he informed Standard readers on March 17 of this year, "is a rights-happy radical individualism."

Thomas is right. God help us if libertarians ever get any power in this country. Imagine, for example, the irreparable damage to the rule of law if a libertarian were ever elected Maricopa County prosecutor.