Articles Posted in Arizona Supreme Court

by
In this opinion, the Supreme Court explained its reasoning for its previously issued orders affirming the trial court’s rulings that the Proposition 127, Renewable Energy Standards Initiative qualified for the November 2018 ballot. At issue was a political action committee’s (Committee) organization formation, the adequacy of the title of the Initiative, and whether the trial court erred in finding a sufficient number of valid petition signatures to support placement of Proposition 127 on the ballot. The Supreme Court held (1) Plaintiffs may not contest the validity of the Initiative based on the statement of the Committee’s alleged non-compliance with Ariz. Rev. Stat. 16-906(B); (2) the Initiative’s title was legally sufficient; and (3) the trial court’s finding that there were a sufficient number of signatures required to place the Initiative on the ballot was not in error. View "Leach v. Reagan" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court explained the reasons for its prior decision order disqualifying the “Stop Political Dirty Money Amendment” (the Initiative) from the November 2018 general election ballot, holding that Ariz. Rev. Stat. 19-118(C), which invalidates any petition signatures obtained by a registered circulator subpoenaed in an election challenge who fails to appear for trial, is constitutional. After the Outlaw Dirty Money political committee (Committee) filed signature petitions with the Secretary of State to qualify the Initiative for the November 2018 ballot, Petitioners filed a complaint pursuant to Ariz. Rev. Stat. 19-118(D) challenging the validity of certain petitions based on objections to petition circulators. Later, the Committee filed a complaint claiming that the Secretary erroneously removed certain petition sheets and signatures during her review and subpoenaed fifteen circulators requiring their appearance at an evidentiary hearing. None of the subpoenaed circulators appeared at the hearing. The trial court subsequently disqualified the non-appearing subpoenaed circulators’ petition signatures, a ruling that rendered the Initiative ineligible for the November 2018 ballot. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 19-118 fosters the integrity of the initiative process and does so by reasonable means; and (2) therefore, section 19-118(C)’s disqualification provision is constitutional on its face and as applied. View "Stanwitz v. Reagan" on Justia Law

by
In this opinion, the Supreme Court explained its ruling that House Concurrent Resolution 2007 (HCR 2007) does not violate the constitutional “single subject rule,” holding that because the two provisions of HCR 2007 are reasonably related to one general subject, the measure satisfies the single subject rule. Challengers filed suit requesting the trial court to enjoin the Secretary of State from placing HCR 2007 on the ballot, alleging that the measure violated the single subject rule contained in Ariz. Const. art. IV, part 2. Relying on Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry v. Kiley, 242 Ariz. 533 (2017), the trial court concluded that the rule does not apply to HCR 2007. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) measures referred to the people by the legislature are “acts” subject to the single subject rule; and (2) HCR 2007 satisfied the single subject rule. View "Hoffman v. Reagan" on Justia Law

by
In this opinion, the Supreme Court explained the reasons for its prior order disqualifying the “Invest in Education Act” initiative from the November 2018 election ballot, holding that the initiative’s description was fatally flawed because it did not comply with the requirements of Ariz. Rev. Stat. 19-102(A). The proposed initiative would increase K-12 education funding and raise certain income tax rates to support it. When Petitioners sought to invalidate the initiative, the superior court ruled that the initiative was eligible for the ballot. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the initiative’s proponents did not comply with the requirements of section 19-102(A) because their description of the initiative’s principal provisions omitted material provisions and failed adequately to inform those who signed petitions to place the measure on the ballot about what they were signing. View "Molera v. Reagan" on Justia Law

by
Frank Tamburri seeks the Libertarian Party nomination for United States Senator in the 2016 election. Pursuant to A.R.S. 16-314, Tamburri timely filed a nomination petition which included 4,205 signatures. Robert Graham, Chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, filed suit challenging the validity of 2,845 signatures and sought to exclude Tamburri’s name from the Libertarian primary election ballot. On appeal, Tamburri challenges the trial court’s order excluding his name from the Libertarian primary election ballot for the office of United States Senator. Tamburri concedes that he did not collect at least 3,034 signatures from “qualified signers” under A.R.S. 16-321 and -322. As a preliminary matter, the court rejected Tamburri's procedural arguments. The court held that the signature requirements of H.B. 2608 do not severely burden the ability of candidates to exercise their First Amendment rights where Tamburri has failed to show that the increased signature requirements, either facially or as applied to him, would prevent “reasonably diligent” minor party candidates from gaining ballot access. The court concluded that the 0.25 percent signature requirement is rationally related to the state’s legitimate interest in ensuring that candidates who appear on the general election ballot have some significant modicum of support. Accordingly, the court affirmed the trial court’s judgment excluding Tamburri’s name from the primary ballot. View "Graham v. Tamburri" on Justia Law

by
On January 27, 2012, the Yuma County Superior Court disqualified Alejandrina Cabrera under Ariz. Rev. Stat. 38-201(C) from appearing on the ballot as a candidate for the San Luis City Council. Concluding that section 38-201(C)'s language requirement must be read "in the context of the political office at issue," the court found that Cabrera was not sufficiently proficient in English to perform as a city council member for San Luis. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding, in relevant part, that (1) the trial court correctly interpreted section 38-201(C); and (2) the trial court's interpretation of the statute did not unconstitutionally violate Cabrera's right to participate in government. View "Escamilla v. Cuello" on Justia Law

by
Joseph Lodge was a judge of a county superior court who sought to run for election to a new term in that office. To qualify for the primary election ballot, Lodge needed to obtain 525 valid signatures on his nominating petitions. Lodge timely filed ninety-nine nominating petitions containing a total of 1,110 signatures. Jill Kennedy, a qualified elector, challenged Lodge's petitions, arguing that they did not substantially comply with Ariz. Rev. Stat. 16-314, -331, and -333 because they did not specify the office that Lodge was seeking. The superior court entered judgment for Kennedy and ordered that Lodge's name not be placed on the 2012 primary or general election ballots. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the petitions failed to substantially comply with statutory requirements. View "Kennedy v. Lodge" on Justia Law

by
This case concerned a challenge to the nomination of Lois Jean McDermott, a Democratic candidate for the Arizona House of Representatives. McDermott appealed from a superior court judgment striking her from the primary election ballot because she identified her name as "Cheuvront-McDermott, Jean" in her nomination paper. McDermott's legal surname was McDermott. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) McDermott substantially complied with the requirements in Ariz. Rev. Stat. 16-311(G), which directs that the candidate's surname shall be printed first; and (2) McDermott's name shall be printed on the primary ballot as "McDermott, Jean Cheuvront." View "Dedolph v. McDermott" on Justia Law

by
In early 2011, Colleen Mathis was selected as the chairperson of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC). In October 2011, the Governor notified the Commissioners of allegations that they had committed substantial neglect of duty and gross misconduct in office. The next month, the Secretary of State sent a letter to Mathis removing her from the IRC. Two-thirds of the Senate concurred in the removal, and Mathis was removed from office. Three days later, the IRC petitioned the Supreme Court for special action relief, claiming that the Governor exceeded her limited removal authority and that the Governor and the Senate violated separation-of-powers principles by usurping powers of the IRC and the judiciary. The Court accepted special action jurisdiction and (1) concluded, as a matter of law, that neither of the Governor's two stated grounds for removing Mathis constituted substantial neglect of duty or gross misconduct in office, as required by the Arizona Constitution; and (2) ordered that Mathis be reinstated as chair of the IRC. View "Ariz. Indep. Redistricting Comm'n v. Mathis" on Justia Law

by
In 2009, the Arizona Legislature amended Ariz. Rev. Stat. 9-821.01, which, as amended, barred a city from electing its city council in partisan elections or in ward-based primaries combined with at-large general elections. The City of Tuscon filed this case against the State, claiming that the amendments to section 9-821.01 did not apply to it as a charter city. The superior court entered judgment for the State. The Supreme Court reversed the superior court's judgment, holding that because Arizona's Constitution includes a provision authorizing eligible cities to adopt charters, and because a charter city has the power to frame its own organic law, including the power to determine who its governing officers shall be and how they shall be selected, section 9-821.01, as amended, did not displace the method that voters of the City of Tuscon chose under its 1929 charter for electing council members. Remanded to the superior court for entry of summary judgment in favor of the City of Tuscon. View "City of Tuscon v. State" on Justia Law