It’s lawsuit season against our lawless legislature

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

GavelI don't know whether a study has ever been done to determine which state legislature gets sued the most often for violating its state constitution and laws, but I have to imagine that Arizona's lawless legislature ranks high on the list. Back in May, the Arizona Republic reported on how much this is costing taxpayers. Controversial Arizona laws rack up big legal fees. More often than not, Arizona loses these cases.

Now that the legislative session is over, it's lawsuit season, that time of year when our lawless legislature gets sued for violating Arizona's constitution and laws in pursuit of the Tea-Publican far-right ideological agenda. This comes from the authoritarianism mindset of movement conservatism. Like the Sun King, Louis XIV of France, these Tea-Publican radicals believe "I am the state." Or if you prefer, Judge Dredd , "I am the law."

Just in the past week, three lawsuits have already been filed against our lawless legislature.

Last November, Arizona voters overwhelmingly rejected Proposition 115, a citizens initiative 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. Not to be deterred, our "Sun King" Tea-Publican legislature enacted a statute to get what they wanted, despite the will of the voters. The Arizona Constitution cannot be amended by a simple legislative act, it must be amended by approval of the voters. Effort targets judicial picks:

On Friday, four members of the commission that nominates judicial candidates for the state’s appellate courts filed a petition for special action in the Arizona Supreme Court, asking the high court to throw out the law on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. Among the lawyers of record for the petition are six former Arizona Supreme Court justices, including five former chief justices.

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The special action, for procedural reasons, addresses only the commission to nominate appellate judges and justices. By logic, if the high court deems the law unconstitutional for the appellate commission, it would have to do so as well for the three commissions that nominate candidates to the Superior Court.

Former Arizona Chief Justice Charles Jones, one of the attorneys of record for the petition for special action, called the law “a major shift in power from the commission, which represents the people, to the governor, which is a political decision.”

“You can’t replace the will of the people with a statute,” Jones said. “Every time you do something like this, it ends up mixing the judiciary with politics. The judicial process begins where the political process ends.”

Today the Arizona Republic offered an editorial opinion in favor of the plaintff judges, noting our lawless legislature's "creeping encroachment on an independent judiciary" (separation of powers doctrine). Our View: No reason for judicial election law.

Next, our lawless legislature in the final hours of the session "logrolled" two unrelated matters, home owners association rules and some election reforms — which, among other things, required cities to conform their election dates to the state elections calendar — to correct a bill passed last year, HB 2826, which is presently scheduled to go to trial in Pima County Superior Court — into a single bill. This violates Arizona's constitutional "single-subject" rule. Bill
on elections, HOAs is targeted
:

The suit takes aim at Senate Bill 1454, which passed in the legislative session’s closing rush. The legislation tacked on a number of changes to homeowners-association procedures to a bill dealing with numerous election-related measures.
Combining different topics in a bill — a tactic known as logrolling — violates the Constitution’s single-subject rule, argued attorney Tim Hogan of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest. He filed the suit in Maricopa County Superior Court on behalf of two men active in homeowners associations.

The bill’s second constitutional misstep is its title, which does not accurately capture the topics addressed in the bill, the suit states. The title refers to elections and does not address homeowners-association changes.

While the bill should not be dealing with the two topics, its title nonetheless should at least accurately reflect its contents, Hogan said.

Yesterday, the Citizens Clean Elections Commission filed suit against our lawless legislature for it's attempt to advantage traditionally funded candidates at the expense of clean elections candidates, in violation of the citizen's initiative that enacted citizens clean elections in Arizona. It also violates the Voter Protection Act, also enacted by citizen's initiative, which prohibits the legislature from amending citizen's initiatives except by a three-fourths super-majority vote in each chamber (which did not occur). Our lawless legislature sneered with contempt for the citizens of this state and said, "To hell with the voters. I am the law!" Campaign-funding
bill facing suit
:

The lawsuit seeks to block House Bill 2593 from taking effect on Sept. 13. The action was filed by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission, Commissioner Louis Hoffman, the Arizona Advocacy Network and state Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson.

They argue the bill, approved mostly along party lines, violates the state’s Voter Protection Act, which bars lawmakers from changing voter-approved measures, such as the contribution limits set in the Clean Elections law. Any changes must be approved by voters.

The only exception is if three-quarters of lawmakers vote for changes that would advance the cause of the voter-approved law — something HB 2593 did not do.

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[Plaintiffs], in seeking relief from the Supreme Court, said quick action is needed before candidates get too deep into the 2014 campaign cycle. Otherwise, a lawsuit in the lower courts could cast uncertainty over contribution limits as the August 2014 primary nears.

* * *

The plaintiffs also argue that the high court needs to act because it involves constitutional questions about the Voter Protection Act, which has been Arizona law since late 1998.

The quotations from Tea-Publican elected officials in the above articles, which I have not included here, demonstrate an extreme arrogance and contempt for the citizens of this state. It's almost as if these Tea-Publican "Sun Kings" believe "I am the state," and possess a divine right to lord over us all, without regard to the Arizona Constitution, the rule of law, or democratic elections. That should disturb you.

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