Court cases to watch in the coming weeks

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Our lawless legislature has several cases in court to keep an eye out for a decision in the coming weeks.

The first case of importance is Biggs, et al. vs. Brewer, et al. (CV2013-011699), the Tea-Publican legislature's challenge to Governor Jan Brewer's Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan heard in Maricopa County Superior Court by Judge Kathleen Cooper on December 13, 2013. A Minute Entry dated December 18 says the matter is "under advisement." Judge Cooper did not indicate at the December 13 hearing when she would rule on pending motions, but there is a deadline of sorts — the "ObamaCare" Medicaid expansion provisions become effective on January 1, 2014.

Harris, et al. v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (CV-12-0894-PHX-ROS-NVW-RRC), the Tea-Publican legislature's challenge to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission's (AIRC) state legislative districts map, was heard by a three judge panel of federal judges on March 22 and concluded on March 30, 2013. Supplemental briefs addressing the effect, if any, of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder on this case wrapped up by August 9. A decision has been pending for more than 120 days.

We are already well into the 2014 election cycle with the primary filing deadline in May. I would argue that time has already expired on the game clock — there needs to be certainty in legislative district lines, and the 2012 legislative district lines should remain in place for 2014. I anticipate a decision in this case shortly.

The Tea-Publican legislature's challenge to the constitutionality of the voter-approved initiative creating the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC) to determine election boundaries rather than the state legislature, Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (CV12-01211-PHX-PGR), is set for oral argument in U.S. District Court on January 24, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. Based upon case law precedents, this should be a no-brainer in favor of the AIRC, but one never knows.

Arizona Attorney General Tom "banned for life by the SEC" Horne and Secretary of State Ken "Birther" Bennett are in U.S. District Court in Kansas, Kris W. Kobach et al. v. United States Election Assistance Commission (13-4095-EFM-DJW) suing the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and threatening to impose a two-tier system for voting in Arizona and Kansas based upon whether you registered to vote with the Arizona voter registration form or the federal motor-voter form. The Judge in his Order Remanding Matter to EAC for Final Agency Action (.pdf) gave the EAC until January 17 to respond to the order of the Court.

The EAC previously denied Arizona's request to revise the federal motor-voter form in the state of Arizona to require proof of citizenship pursuant to Prop. 200 (2004) because the EAC has no commissioners, and thus has no quorum to act. The judge's order gives the interim executive director of the EAC authority to respond to the Court's order, but the only appropriate response for the executive director is to deny the request again to maintain the status quo. Whatever the District Court in Kansas rules is likely to be appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. A direct appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court may be possible where Justice Antonin Scalia, who set up this work around, is salivating waiting for this case to return to him. I would anticipate a decision in this case before the November 2014 election.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in McCutcheon v. FEC (12-536) challenging campaign contribution limits on the second day of its term in October. I would anticipate a decision early in the year so that this much anticipated decision may be taken advantage of by high-dollar contributors. (Citizens United v. FEC was announced in the month of January).

Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission et al. v. Ken Bennett, et al. (CV2013-010338) will return to Judge Mark Brain at the Maricopa County Superior Court after the Arizona Supreme Court vacated the Court of Appeals injunction enjoining the Tea-Publican legislature's new higher campaign contribution limits. With the higher limits in place for 2014, it is not clear what a trial on the merits will accomplish.

Leach, et al. v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (CV2012-007344), the Tea-Publican legislature's challenge to the AIRC's congressional districts map, is proceeding in Maricopa County Superior Court. The case is expected to go to trial sometime in 2014. No action is currently pending.

Arizona has a petition for review pending before the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision striking down the Tea-Publican legislature's 20-week abortion restrictions, Horne v. Isaacson (13-402). The petition has been distributed for the Court's conference on January 10, 2014.

Joseph Diaz, et al. v. Janice Brewer (CV09-02402-PHX-JWS), a challenge to the Tea-Publican legislature's denial of health care benefits to state employees who are same-sex partners, was recently certified as a class action lawsuit.

Your Arizona tax dollars at work!

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