Thursday, August 8, 2013

READ: Constitutionality Challenge of Arizona's New Judicial Merit Selection Statute Gets Some "Friends", Locally and Nationally (ACLPI, Brennan Center, Justice At Stake)

Both the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest ("ACLPI") and the national Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake filed amicus briefs with the state Supreme Court yesterday, urging the Justices to declare a new statute governing the judicial merit selection process unconstitutional.

After the voters rejected a ballot measure to amend the Arizona Constitution to increase the number of names sent to the Governor for a particular vacancy, the Arizona Legislature passed - and, the Governor signed - a statute this year doing the same thing.

The ACLPI notes that the measure's sponsor, Rep. Justin Pierce, might be correct that the Arizona Constitution permits more names to be sent, they note that the voters definitely knew what they were doing when they soundly defeated the almost-identical measure the year before.

The brief from the Brennan Center and Justice at Stake lauds Arizona's existing judicial merit selection process. ("Arizona’s merit selection system is widely regarded as succeeding in
producing excellent judges.  In its guide for best practices in merit selection, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform identifies Arizona as“lead[ing] the nation with the procedures it has put in place to fulfill the promise of true nonpartisan ‘merit’ selection.")  It suggests that allowing the new law to stand would undermine that process and violate the separation of powers (between the judicial and the legislative branches).

The state (and any amici interested in responding to the new briefs) have until next Thursday to file their responsive briefs.  The Supreme Court will then decide, without oral arguments, on August 27, whether or not to grant the special action petition and determine the case.


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