Washington’s attorney general has filed suit against Motel 6. Has the discount hotel chain been stiffing its customers on room rates?
No, it simply cooperated with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when the agency was investigating hotel guests. According to the Washington authorities, that’s a violation of the common law, the state constitution, the Washington Law Against Discrimination and the Washington Consumer Protection Act.
The Evergreen State is indignant because it claims Motel 6 was actively engaged in national origin discrimination. But the legal eagles in Washington have it all wrong. They’ve essentially filed a bogus Fourth Amendment search and seizure claim dressed up as a discriminatory business practice and a trade violation.
Let’s examine each of these ridiculous claims individually:
- Motel 6 wasn’t “discriminating” against anyone. It was actually ICE that was distinguishing among guests on the basis of national origin, consistent with its legal authority. The Constitution, the Immigration and Nationality Act, and a host of other laws explicitly differentiate between those whose national origin is American, and all others. That distinction is the very basis of citizenship in the modern nation state and it is recognized everywhere in the world. (Except, apparently, in Washington.)
- There’s no valid Fourth Amendment search and seizure issue either. Washington seems to have deliberately attempted to undermine the governing precedent through a provision in its Consumer Protection Act that purports to give guests a protected privacy interest in hotel records. But the Supreme Court has held otherwise:
- In United States v. Miller, the Court held that there is no legitimate expectation of privacy in information voluntarily conveyed to a company and exposed to its employees in the ordinary course of business.
- In Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, the Supreme Court firmly held that any party with a Fourth Amendment privacy interest may consent to a search, obviating the need for a subpoena or warrant.
- In City of Los Angeles v. Patel, the Court specifically noted that hotel operators may consent to a search of their registration records.
- The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution establishes that, in cases of conflict, federal law takes precedence over state law and even state constitutions. This means that states can’t attempt to bind the federal government to a particular course of action via state law – as Washington is attempting to do in this case.
Accordingly, the claim that Motel 6 should be penalized for cooperating with a lawful exercise of federal government authority is beyond absurd – it’s offensive. And it appears that Washington’s attorney general is targeting the hotel chain solely because its views on immigration enforcement differ from that of the state’s largely open-borders government.
Before Washington is allowed to further pursue its open rebellion against federal authority – at the expense of law abiding corporations – the federal Department of Justice should attempt to intervene and preserve the interests of justice. And Motel 6 should tell Washington that it plans to leave the light on, for ICE and any other policing agency that is lawfully going about its assigned business.