Category Archives: Constitution

SCOTUS upholds Tucson city council election system

Can we finally stop hearing from Tucson’s Whiny Ass Titty-Baby Tea-Publicans how the City of Tucson’s city council election system is unconstitutional?

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a petition for review from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the City of Tucson’s city council election system. End of the road, whiners.

Howard Fisher reports, US Supreme Court affirms Tucson’s method of electing council members:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rebuffed a bid by a group representing some Republicans to void the system of nominating council members by ward but having them elected at-large. The justices gave no reason for their ruling.

Monday’s action is the last word in the multi-year bid by the Public Integrity Alliance to have state and federal courts declare that the practice was an unconstitutional violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Attorney Kory Langhofer, who represented the challengers, argued that the system gave some voters more power than others and, in some cases, effectively nullified their votes.

But that contention was most recently rejected by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Tucson’s hybrid system for electing members of its city council imposes no constitutionally significant burden on voters rights to vote,” the appellate court concluded. “And Tucson has advanced a valid, sufficiently important interest to justify its choice of electoral system.”

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AIRC wins final legal challenge to redistricting maps

On Thursday, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge rejected challenges from a coalition of Republican voters that the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC) used the wrong process in drawing boundaries for Arizona’s nine congressional districts. Arizona redistricting commission wins another legal challenge:

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Roger Brodman rejected claims that the five-member commission violated the state’s Open Meetings Law as it went about its work.

Brodman’s ruling continues a string of redistricting-commission victories. The citizen-created commission has won all five legal challenges brought against it, including two that went to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It is unclear if the plaintiffs will appeal; attorney Brett Johnson was not immediately available for comment.

Joe Kanefield, one of the attorneys representing the commission, called it a “sweeping victory” because the judge sided with the commission on all the complaints.

“It’s a broad victory, there’s nothing left to litigate at this point,” Kanefield said.

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AZ Court of Appeals upholds Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan

The Arizona Court of Appeals has affirmed the Maricopa County Superior Court decision upholding former governor Jan Brewer’s Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan in 2013. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, Arizona appeals court says Medicaid expansion law is constitutional:

The appellate court in its opinion (.pdf) said the law imposed an assessment that is exempt from the requirement that any act by lawmakers increasing state revenues, such a tax hike, must get a two-thirds vote in the Legislature [the “Two-Thirds for Taxes” amendment, Prop. 108 (1992)].

The health care law was approved by a simple majority.

At issue is the assessment on hospitals, which the state uses to draw down matching federal funds.

The law has allowed Arizona to expand eligibility to residents who earn between 100 and 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

In 2015, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Douglas Gerlach also upheld the law, ruling that the hospital assessment that funds the program is not subject to Arizona Constitution’s supermajority provision.

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U.S. District Court for Hawaii issues nationwide restraining order against Trump’s revised travel ban

Second verse, same as the first” . . .

Donald Trump’s revised travel ban from earlier this month, issued after he dropped court appeals of his first badly flawed travel ban, faced immediate legal challenges in multiple courts.

Today the U.S. District Court for Hawaii issued a nationwide restraining order against implementation of the revised travel ban hours before it was to go into effect. Federal Judge Blocks Trump’s Latest Travel Ban Nationwide:

A federal judge in Hawaii issued a nationwide order (.pdf) Wednesday evening blocking President Trump’s ban on travel from parts of the Muslim world, dealing a political blow to the White House and signaling that proponents of the ban face a long and risky legal battle ahead.

The ruling was the second frustrating defeat for Mr. Trump’s travel ban, after a federal court in Seattle halted an earlier version of the executive order last month. Mr. Trump responded to that setback with fury, lashing out at the judiciary before ultimately abandoning [an appeal from] the order.

He issued a new and narrower travel ban on March 6, with the aim of pre-empting new lawsuits by abandoning some of the most contentious elements of the first version.

But Mr. Trump evidently failed in that goal: Democratic states and nonprofit groups that work with immigrants and refugees raced into court to attack the updated order, alleging that it was a thinly veiled version of the ban on Muslim migration that he had pledged to enact last year, as a presidential candidate.

Administration lawyers argued in multiple courts on Wednesday that the president was merely exercising his national security powers and that no element of the executive order, as written, could be construed as a religious test for travelers.

But in the lawsuit brought by Hawaii’s attorney general, Doug Chin, Judge Derrick K. Watson appeared skeptical of the government’s claim that past comments by Mr. Trump and his allies had no bearing on the case.

“Are you saying we close our eyes to the sequence of statements before this?” Judge Watson, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, asked in a hearing Wednesday before he ruled against the administration.

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AZ Supreme Court unanimously upholds Prop. 206

The Arizona Supreme Court unanimously ruled against a challenge brought by our corporate overlords in the Chamber of Commerce organizations to the voter-approved Prop. 206, the minimum wage initiative, raising the state’s minimum wage and providing for paid time off regulations. The Arizona Capitol Times  (subscription required) reports, Supreme Court upholds minimum wage law:

The justices rejected arguments by a group of plaintiffs, led by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, that Proposition 206 led to an unconstitutional mandate for the government to spend money. Attorneys for the chamber argued that expenses caused by Prop. 206, which raised the minimum wage to $10 per hour on January 1, violated the Arizona Constitution’s revenue-source rule.

Adopted in 2004, the rule requires ballot initiatives to identify funding sources for any new government spending.

Chief Justice Scott Bales announced the ruling in a brief order released Tuesday afternoon. A lengthier written opinion will be released at a later date.

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U.S. District Court for Texas strikes down congressional district maps for intentional racial discrimination

On Friday, a three judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, once again, ruled that a handful of Texas congressional districts drawn by the Republican-dominated state Legislature in 2011 discriminated against black and Hispanic voters and violated the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution. Texas Congressional Maps Are Struck Down for Discrimination:

It is the latest development in a long-running and racially charged redistricting case that locked Democratic lawmakers, minority groups, the Obama administration and the Texas Republican leadership in a legal battle for nearly six years. Democrats and civil-rights lawyers accused the majority-white Texas Republican leadership of drawing district maps in ways that diluted the voting power of Democratic-leaning minority voters, accusations that Republicans denied.

“The court’s decision (and findings of fact and conclusions of law) exposes the Texas Legislature’s illegal effort to dilute the vote of Texas Latinos,” said Nina Perales, the vice president of litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which represented a coalition of Latino organizations that sued Texas over the redistricting maps. “Moving forward, the ruling will help protect Latinos from manipulation of district lines in order to reduce their political clout.”

The next steps in the case were unclear. Texas is likely to appeal the decision, and because of the legal dynamics, any appeal would go directly to the Supreme Court. The process of redrawing the maps may be delayed not only by an appeal but also because the San Antonio panel has yet to rule on another aspect of the case, the district maps drawn for the state’s House of Representatives.

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