Posted by Michael Bryan
I just got around to watching Michael Chihak's interview with Jan Brewer regarding her new budget proposal on Arizona Week. At one point, Chihak asked her about the Independent Redistricting Commission controversy, and she became very animated and claimed that she was "outraged" by the Supreme Court's refusal to allow her to arbitrarily remove Chairwoman Mathis.
Brewer immediately blurted out "the Supreme Court justices can be impeached". She went on to point out that all public officials are subject to impeachment or recall, and that therefore the IRC should not be allowed to operate without oversight and the ability to remove them. Her comments could certainly be interpreted as merely giving an example of a principle, but it could also be seen as a pointed warning.
The justices of the Arizona Supreme Court can be impeached by a mere majority vote of the Arizona House, and convicted upon the same 2/3rds Arizona Senate vote that illegally removed Mathis.
Given that, according to our Supreme Court, there was no legal basis for that vote in the case of Mathis, what is to stop the Senate for convicting a Supreme Court justice on a purely pretextual impeachment case?
There is nothing to prevent such an abuse. Impeachment is not subject to judicial review.
So is Brewer's comment just illustrating a point? Or does it have a more nefarious point? Is she reminding the Supreme Court that she can abuse them just as easily as she abused Mathis, and that there will be no one to come their rescue?
Arizona's GOP super-majority certainly enables such an abuse of power. The GOP caucus has certainly demonstrated that they are willing to engage in such a partisan abuse of power if their power is threatened. Given their ability, and their demonstrated willingness to abuse that power, is it unreasonable to fear that the GOP caucus might gin up an impeachment case against one or more Supreme Court justices?
Brewer's 'reminder' under these circumstances is chilling, even were it not meant to be.