Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Last November, Arizona voters overwhelmingly rejected Proposition 115, a citizens initiative by the Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) that would have given the governor more say in appointing judges to the state’s appeals courts and the superior courts in its three largest counties. The CAP assault on the independence of the judiciary.
Not to be deterred, our "Sun King" Tea-Publican legislature enacted HB 2600 earlier this year to get what they and the CAP demanded, despite the will of the voters. "Screw the voters! I am the law!"
The Arizona Constitution cannot be amended by a simple legislative act, it must be amended by approval of the voters. So four members of the commission that nominates judicial candidates for the state’s appellate courts filed a special action in the Arizona Supreme Court, asking the high court to throw out the law on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. Effort targets judicial picks.
Today, the Arizona Supreme Court struck down HB 2600 as unconstitutional. The larger issue which remains is our lawless legislature's creeping encroachment on the independent judiciary on behalf of the CAP.
The full opinion is Here, Dobson et al. v. State of Arizona ex rel Appeals Court Appointments, CV-13-0225-SA.
Highlights from the opinion below the fold:
On its face, H.B. 2600 conflicts with our state constitution. Arizona’s Constitution provides that the Commission will nominate no fewer than three persons for each judicial vacancy, unless a majority of the Commission votes to nominate additional persons, Ariz. Const. Art. 6, §§ 36(D), 37(A). H.B. 2600, in contrast, directs the Commission to submit at least five nominees, unless the Commission rejects an applicant by a two-thirds vote. H.B. 2600, § 1. This requirement fundamentally changes the selection process set forth in the constitution.
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Because H.B. 2600 conflicts with Article 6, Sections 36 and 37, the court of appeals’ analysis in Turley v. Bolin is more instructive.
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Under Turley’s analysis, H.B. 2600 cannot be said to “reasonably supplement” Arizona’s Constitution. Instead, H.B. 2600 materially changes the process of submitting judicial nominees to the governor as established in Article 6, Section 37. It works a fundamental change in the constitutionally prescribed balance of power between the Commission and the governor. By increasing the number of nominees the Commission must submit, H.B. 2600 simultaneously increases the governor’s discretion and narrows the commissioners’ constitutionally granted discretion to nominate no more than the three candidates whom they determine best meet the constitutionally mandated selection criteria. … Further, H.B. 2600 imposes a two-thirds voting requirement in a context not authorized by the constitution. … Even if the change were “merely procedural,” the legislature has no authority to statutorily mandate procedures inconsistent with Arizona’s Constitution.
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When a state statute conflicts with Arizona’s Constitution, the constitution must prevail.
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Section 1 of H.B. 2600 is to be codified as A.R.S. § 12-3151(A)–(C). [Section 2 of H.B. 2600 is a severability clause.]
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Newly enacted §12-3151(A) concerns the appellate court nominating commission as just discussed, but our analysis establishes that § 12-3151(B), which concerns the trial court nominating commissions, similarly violates the constitution and therefore cannot be upheld. See Ariz. Const. art. 6, § 41(J). Section 12-3151(C), which requires the commissions to maintain individual voting records for each commissioner, also is not severable because it conflicts with the constitution ’s provisions regarding the commissions’ rules of procedure. See Ariz. Const. art. 6, §§36(E), 41(K).
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We hold that H.B. 2600 is unconstitutional because it directly conflicts with Arizona’s Constitution. We enjoin the Commission from applying the statute and award reasonable attorney’s fees to Petitioners[.]
If it wasn't for an independent judiciary, we would all be living under the tyranny of a theocracy imposed by the Christian Taliban at the CAP.