Category Archives: Constitution

Initiatives may not be decided at the ballot box but by seven justices of the Arizona Supreme Court

Back in July, the Arizona Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a  legal challenge to void a statute requiring initiative petitions to be in “strict compliance” with each election law. State argues case on ballot-measure rule not ‘ripe’:

Assistant Attorney General Kara Karlson who signed the legal brief, told the justices that they don’t even have to consider whether the new requirements violate the constitutional rights of voters. She said only those who have suffered some harm from the new law — or are at least immediately threatened — have a legal right to challenge it.

Karlson said that’s not the case here.

She pointed out that none of the groups that filed suit have a pending initiative which is in danger of being disqualified from the ballot based on the new strict compliance mandate. And Karlson brushed aside their claims that the law interferes with efforts to plan future ballot measures, saying that amounts to little more than “a naked assertion that they may want to circulate initiatives at some unspecified point in the future.”

And that, she said, means the case is not legally “ripe” for the court to consider.

The justices gave no date to consider the issue.

Well the issue is now “ripe” as a result of two conflicting opinions issued yesterday on strict compliance versus substantial compliance in legal challenges to two initiatives. The Arizona Supreme Court will now have to rule on the issue. Judge rules tax on rich initiative can go to ballot:

A judge has slapped down efforts by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry to block people from voting whether to hike income taxes on the rich to generate $690 million a year for education.

In an extensive ruling Thursday, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Smith acknowledged that, strictly speaking, hiking the top income tax rate from 4.54 percent to 8 percent for those earning more than $250,000 a year actually increases the tax rate on those earnings by 76 percent. Similarly, taking the tax rate for earnings above $500,000 for individuals to 9 percent is a 98 percent increase over the current rate.

But Smith said that did not make it inherently misleading for organizers of the Invest in Ed initiative to describe the tax hikes as 3.46 percent and 4.46 percent, the absolute difference between the current rate and the proposed new ones.

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Journalists are not the enemy

I mentioned in a previous post that The Boston Globe invited newspapers across the country to stand up for the free press with a coordinated series of newspaper editorials condemning Donald Trump’s attacks on “fake news” and suggestion that journalists are “the enemy of the people,” to be published on Thursday, August 16, 2018. (h/t Boston Globe graphic).

The New York Times editorial today links to  a selection from the hundreds of newspaper editorials across the country today that answered the clarion call of The Boston Globe. A FREE PRESS NEEDS YOU. (A Google search did not locate a complete list).

Here in Arizona, the Lee Enterprises owned Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff, The press is not the enemy of the people, and the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson published editorials. Star Opinion: The free press is not the ‘enemy of the people’.

In southern Arizona, the Tucson Sentinel published an editorial, What we stand for at TucsonSentinel.com, as did the Sierra Vista HeraldWe’re Not The Enemy, and Green Valley News. EDITORIAL: Reflection needed for Trump, media.

While the national publication USA Today published an editorial, What our investigative journalists expose isn’t fake news, Arizona’s largest circulation newspaper, The Arizona Republic, in the USA Today network did not. Subscribers should demand to know why.

UPDATE: I am informed The Republic did publish an editorial, which I did not find onIine early this morning at azcentral.com. Good on them!

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Tyrant Trump has an ‘enemies list,’ abuses power to retaliate against his critics

I have been trying to avoid discussing the new season of Celebrity Apprentice: White House Edition with Amorosa Manigault-Newman.

But last night I happened to catch an interview of former CIA Director John Brennan on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell which was scheduled after this tweet yesterday:

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Lawrence O’Donnell wanted to know what Brennan meant by his comment “so dangerous to our Nation.” Watch the interview.

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It would appear that our egomaniacal narcissist Twitter-troll-in-chief “Dear Leader” must have been watching (although he would deny it) or reading his Twitter responses, because today the always vindictive and petty Trump revoked former CIA Director Brennan’s security clearance:

President Donald Trump has decided to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan’s clearance for access to classified information, he said in a statement read by press secretary Sarah Sanders Wednesday.

The courtesy of allowing a former administration official to retain security clearance has been “outweighed by the risk posed by his erratic conduct and behavior,” Trump said in the statement. “Mr. Brennan has a history that calls into question his objectivity and credibility.”

He added that Brennan “has recently leveraged his status … to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations, wild outbursts on the internet and on television, about this administration.”

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No on Prop. 126, the false and purposefully misleading Protect Arizona Taxpayers Act

The so-called Citizens for Fair Tax Policy Committee (it is actually the Arizona Association of Realtors)  is already running television ads for Prop. 126, a constitutional amendment titled the Protect Arizona Taxpayers Act.

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You have to go to their website to see a copy of this false and purposefully misleading ad designed to dupe the public. https://protectaztaxpayers.com.

This is a special interest initiative, not a true citizens initiative. And it is yet another example of an anti-tax ballot measure of the type that has gotten Arizona into the revenue deficit problem we have today.

It is a preemptive measure which is a solution in search of a non-existent problem — services are not subject to sales tax in Arizona — and likely will never be because of Prop. 108 (1992) the “Two-Thirds for Taxes Amendment,” the GOP’s weapon of mass destruction which requires a two-thirds vote of each legislative chamber either to impose a new tax, or to eliminate or reduce a tax credit or tax exemption.

The legislature’s renewal of the school sales tax this past session to avoid sending it to the ballot for renewal was the first time since Prop. 108 passed in 1992 that the legislature has voted in favor of a new tax.

Annual attempts to clean up Arizona’s antiquated tax exemptions have been snuffed out by the special interests that benefit from them. There is no real threat of services being taxed.

A constitutional amendment to address a non-existent problem is the height of bad public policy.

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Free speech is not absolute, it comes with consequences and accountability

Social media platforms such as Apple, YouTube, Facebook, Spotify and other companies removed or banned the truly vile Alex Jones and his conspiracy theory mongering Infowars from their platforms over the past week or so.

In recent years, Conservatives Have Weaponized the First Amendment:

A new analysis prepared for The New York Times found that the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has been far more likely to embrace free-speech arguments concerning conservative speech than liberal speech. That is a sharp break from earlier eras.

As a result, liberals who once championed expansive First Amendment rights are now uneasy about them.

“The left was once not just on board but leading in supporting the broadest First Amendment protections,” said Floyd Abrams, a prominent First Amendment lawyer and a supporter of broad free-speech rights. “Now the progressive community is at least skeptical and sometimes distraught at the level of First Amendment protection which is being afforded in cases brought by litigants on the right.”

Many on the left have traded an absolutist commitment to free speech for one sensitive to the harms it can inflict.

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Federal courts reject Trump immigration policies

The Trump administration’s family separation policy — state sponsored kidnapping and child abuse — may result in making orphans of 572 children for whom the government has opted not to try to reunify with their parents, despite a court order, and instead passing the buck to the ACLU: “If you want them reunified so bad, you do it.”

The judge was not amused. Judge calls Trump administration family reunification efforts ‘unacceptable’:

The federal judge overseeing the court-ordered reunification of the 2,551 migrant children separated from their parents at the border blasted the Trump administration Friday for lacking a plan to reunify the remaining 572 children in its custody with their parents and the slow pace of progress.

In a Thursday night status report filing, the Trump administration said only 13 of the parents had been located by the American Civil Liberties Union, which U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw of the Southern District of California called “unacceptable at this point.”

The parents of 410 children are currently outside of the United States, likely having been deported before reunification, according to the court filing.

The Trump administration had proposed the ACLU take the lead in locating and identifying what the judge had called “missing parents” of children still in government custody. Sabraw said that plan was not acceptable and placed that responsibility squarely on the government.

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